03 January 2010

The Chelsea Cafe - A Comedy of Neglect

“Is that sausage cooked?” I asked hubby tentatively, “Probably not” he grumbled. A pink middled sausage was really just the final straw for him, after a comedy of errors – he was all out of patience and was beyond caring if his snags were cooked or not.

As a Diner – I think one of the most frustrating things is to be waiting for a table and watching other people get seated before you… especially when they arrive after you.

To console ourselves that our holiday was almost over – I took hubby out to breakfast to The Chelsea. I had heard good things about The Chelsea, and considering we have eaten at almost every other Restaurant at The Barracks  - I didn’t really think we could go wrong.

To start with – they didn’t have any tables – but for Saturday morning breakfast, I’m happy to wait for one. We sat at their bar area while we waited… and waited… and waited. And proceeded to watch 3 other couples get seated before us. We asked the waiter again if we could get a table and were told that he would seat us as soon as one became available… we watched another couple take that table – and then just resigned ourselves to staying put.

We had to flag down a waiter to ask for water. Flag them down again to order a coffee, not to mention two other flagging attempts to actually get a table… so yes, lots of arm waving, very little service.

We eventually got our coffees - mine was fantastic: rich, creamy and in a cup the size of my head. Perect. Hubby had food envy and demanded that I take a photo of him stirring sugar so you see just how small it was… but he did admit, that ignoring the size of it – it was very good coffee, their Barista certainly knows what they are doing.

I was a little disappointed with the menu – the review I read had raved about the Pear Pancakes with Blueberry Curd, so I had already made up my mind what I wanted… but these were not on the menu…

The rest of the menu was pretty bland. Hubby always orders the Big Breakfast wherever we go – but there was nothing like that here. The best we could do was get him the “2 Free Range Eggs on Toast” and treat is as a “Build your own Breakfast”. Which cost us a fortune. In the end – adding Bacon, Mushrooms and Sausages cost $23. Nothing else really grabbed me – and I’d seen most of the meals go past by this stage – so I settled for the 2 Free Range Eggs as well, with a side of bacon.

When our meals arrived, I was ravenous - and somehow, looking at the minimalist plating - it made me even hungrier. I know the menu said 2 Free Range Eggs on Toast but - would it have killed them to add a garnish of some description?? Maybe a little dressed rocket or a dish of relish... or something? My plate was a very accurate (but somewhat barren) interpretation of the dish on the menu.

Being completely objective on my breakfast - the Ciabatta bread was obviously fresh and nicely toasted, the poached eggs were perfectly runny and the bacon was deliciously crisp. All in all, a triumph.

Hubby's mushrooms were lovely and I assume roasted to order, his scrambled eggs were rich and creamy and his bacon was as good as mine. The pork sausages were definitely not cooked all the way through but possibily because of this, they were wonderfully moist.

Despite their lack of cooking, they were easily one of the nicest sausages I have ever had in a Restaurant. (Did I mention hubby is a Butcher and I am spoilt?) Nice thick pork sausages with fresh fennel and white pepper, they were very, very tasty. With what was a very nicely delivered breakfast - it was a shame that there was only one piece of toast. And no butter. And no sauce.

By this stage, we had already had to hunt down (successfully) a glass of water, salt and pepper, napkins and (unsuccessfully) a second coffee - we had given up any hope of butter or sauce. Disappointing really.

I really feel the need to say that the service wasn't rude or even appalling - it just wasn't good. We felt completely neglected - without seeing that it was busy enough to warrant it.

It takes either good Waiters who can work on their own, or average Waiters with a great Supervisor to deliver decent service. The Waiters we had were happy and friendly - but they had no follow through or proactive customer service. Nothing was offered - everything had to be asked for. You shouldnt have to ask for water, salt, pepper or a second coffee. I believe that these things should all be offered to you. Or at least in plain view to be able to get yourself.

The Chelsea has a lot of potential in it's locality, beautiful surrounds and a Chef that handles produce well. It just needs to polish it's Front of House service to be able to offer the full package.

The Verdict: Really lovely food - great produce, cooked simply - exactly what a quality breakfast should be. Coffee was fantastic, I would go back for a takeaway coffee in a heartbeat. Service needs some serious polish - hubby won't go back ever, but I will go back when I hear more positive reviews.

Recommendations: Both of our breakfasts were great - the Pork Sausages were divine - despite not being cooked properly. I would go back just to have a double side dish of those.

Contact: The Chelsea  

Chelsea on Urbanspoon


  1. wow, I dont think I've ever gotten something on a plate that was the exact description on the menu. Two free range eggs and bacon, thats what you got. Goood to hear that the meals were quite good despite all the troubles.

  2. I know!! It tasted delicious but just looked so boring! :(

  3. you should try the dish at the chelsea with the carrot jam, possibly the greatest breakfast dish i have ever tried, plus i think they change there menus very frequently to get the best out of the seasons, that is why you probably didnt get the pear pancakes????

  4. Yes - I did see that one and was really interested in it... will have to try it next time!! I was so disappointed that the pear pancakes weren't on the menu but I love it when places do seasonal additions :)