I have often lamented the lack of good quality lunch spots within walking distance from my workplace. The lovely Cafe Flaunt, one of the few nearby places serving drinkable coffee, has been my go-to for quite some time. I’m not about to ditch my old favourite any time soon, however I couldn’t help but get a little bit excited when I heard that the crew behind Pillar of Salt had just opened up a new cafe only a few doors down the road.
Touchwood opened for business last Monday in the two spaces formerly occupied by a recycled timber furniture shop. The place is huge, with plenty of indoor seating (even behind the counter and coffee bar) and some more tables outside. Despite this, it was quite full when we popped in at lunch time and when I passed by on the weekend there was a decent line outside.
My coffee was lovely and smooth, slightly on the weaker side but not overly so. Not bad at all.
Wagyu beef burger ($19)
Of course Bob couldn’t go past the burger. The juicy patty was covered with well-melted cheese and sandwiched in a sweet brioche bun. I don’t normally care for salad items in burgers but here the tomato was ripe and sliced thinly enough so as to not be offensive. It didn’t make my list of top burgers in town or anything but it was a decent option that’s well worth a shot if you’re in the area.
The chips, however, were absolutely top notch. They appeared to be hand-cut and had a thick, crispy exterior layer not unlike a potato skin. I wish they served these on their own!
Toasted po’ boy ($19)
I went for the ‘toasted po’ boy’, which involved the usual baguette split in half, toasted and served open topped with coriander-laced slaw, lime mayo, hot sauce, grilled rockling and fried prawns. It was a little awkward to eat so I went the knife and fork route. The prawns were coated in a light, crisp batter that was quite pleasant. The hot sauce could have been much hotter but it wasn’t a bad meal nonetheless.
Teething problems were to be expected in a place that’s only been open 7 days. A quick scroll through the cafe’s Urbanspoon page reveals a number of complaints about service time, mostly from diners who visited over the busy grand final weekend.
We also experienced a lengthy delay, as our meals were given to two other people sitting nearby who arrived after us and happened to order the same dishes. We weren’t charged for these, which was fairly reasonable. However, even after this a macchiato for our party was incorrectly ordered as a mocha. It was sent back but the macchiato never came and we ended up cancelling it.
I know it’s early days, but I’ve been to just-opened places before and none of them were quite on this level. The staff appeared lost and confused about which orders were supposed to go where. I really want to like Touchwood given that it’s so close to work and some of the other menu items looked quite good (peanut butter and jelly waffles!). For now though I might let them settle in for a bit and give them another go a bit later.Touchwood 480 Bridge Road Richmond