Sunday, December 13, 2015

Seriously, it's December already?! Life in 2015 has been quite excellent so far with some big changes like moving out from by myself to a shared house, learning a different role at work, meeting heaps of new people (mostly lovely foodies!) and doing some unexpected travel. It's also been an inconsistent mix of very slow months and insanely busy months - October being one of them. After months of feeling uninspired at work, I finally have been given a project to work with that involved me travelling to Bangalore, India, which is a trip I've been hoping to go on for a while. But of course that had to happen in a month which was already busy, mostly involving events around the wedding of one of my best friends, Kirst. So I squeezed this trip in between her Hen's Day and the wedding, after which I headed down to Melbourne for a long weekend for another wedding. Weddings galore!

Anyhow, as usual I'm taking forever to get to the point of the review, prior to the big Hen's Event my fellow Brisbane-based bridesmaids and I gathered to do a final round of planning and as avid breakfast lovers, we decided to meet at Gauge for the intense discussions for an early morning meeting. I'd been to Gauge a few times when it opened and enjoyed both times and am still dying to go for lunch and dinner.

The lovely C offered to give me a lift and so no bike required - however the trip via bike is super convenient either via the city and over Victoria Bridge or crossing over Kulripa Bridge and riding up near GOMA. The central South Brisbane location isn't very conducive to easy parking and the large amount of construction causing the majority of available spaces to be blocked off didn't help. However, it turns out that there are about three 1 hour parking spaces right outside Gauge so if you get there early, you can nab one of those like we did. Score!

Located on Merivale St, just off Fish Lane, Gauge is unobtrusive at street level but walk inside and you are met with a feeling of a safe haven from the busy street. Decorated in cool colours with minimalistic furniture, it's open and inviting. With several large tables as well as some smaller tables, there's plenty of seating for everyone - most of which the chefs in the open kitchen can see out to. B was already seated in the corner when we arrived, looking absolutely stunning in the first of her Frocktober dresses. If you weren't aware, Frocktober is a charity event that takes place in October (I'm sure you never guessed that...) each year and participants wear a different dress each day to raise money for Ovarian cancer. B's first effort was a gorgeous 50s style dress, with a matching hairstyle and white gloves to match. To say I felt sloppy was an understatement... 

Not long after arriving we were brought water and menus and had our coffee orders taken. Gauge doesn't publish their menus online (painful for the indecisive orderer such as myself) and so I'd been 'researching' Instagram actively the night before but still wasn't entirely sure what was on the menu. It had unsurprisingly changed since I was last there but I noted that the Bircher and Sourdough Waffle were still present. Gauge are known for their innovative, offbeat menu and the new additions proved that with Smoked kingfish, pearl barley, soft egg, foam and Ash sourdough, almond cream, raw beef, poached egg w XO sauce & pickled green tomatoes now featuring.  And Soft eggs on sourdough are nothing to turn your nose up at, especially if you add the optional coal grilled WA octopus with pickled beetroot. And with all these amazing options, what did I choose? Even now I'm retrospectively kicking myself but I eventually chose the house organic oat bircher w fresh seasonal fruits, lemon myrtle & honeycomb. I wanted so badly to feel one of those exciting options but in all honestly, they just all felt too much for me that particular morning. C, a recent Gauge addict, opted for the ash sourdough with raw beef and B chose the sourdough waffle, parsnip custard, freeze dried honey, bee pollen & brown butter.

Our coffees arrived and I had my standard long black with milk on the side. I've realised that I really only need the milk when the coffee isn't great but Gauge do a mean long black using Coffee Supreme beans so the milk was unnecessary...I must remember that when I'm ordering. So we began our brainstorming session well caffeinated and disused the important things in life like what would be involved in making flower crowns and just what was the topless waiter going to do?

Our meals arrived, plated gorgeously as I remembered. The waffle in particular looks attractive with all the dabs of the other elements around the plate, plus waffles are just plain delightful looking. Gauge have also perfected the art of plating Bircher, which is really quite ugly if you think about it...but they arrange the colourful pieces of fresh fruit and that chunk of honeycomb prettily on top with the smear of yoghurt underneath to disguise that fact. I was most curious to see the ash sourdough and it's dark charcoal colour didn't disappoint. Raw meat is raw meat - you can't just top that with some edible flowers and make it pretty, you know? - but on top of the almond cream and bread, it still looked appetising. But hey I'm a bit odd like that so willing to admit it might not be everyone's idea of the prettiest picture.

The Bircher was as good as I remembered - soaked enough to be easily eaten with becoming mush and with a juicy, fruity flavour from the apple and some dried fruit added chew factor. The lack of milk or yoghurt used to soak the oats means that it's not creamy as is and there is a distinctly chewier texture to them, possibly also due to the oats being milled in house. Lighter than a creamy milk-based Bircher but easily substantial enough to keep you going until lunch. The yoghurt is a natural liquid version and isn't plentiful in serve size but enough to add some creaminess and a tart tang to contrast with the sweetness of the abundant cut fresh fruit and honey. The fruit is seasonal and thus changes regularly. The cube of dark golden honeycomb oozes with honey and has a delightful waxy chewy texture. A sprinkling of sunshine in the form of lemon myrtle adds a colourful contrast but no discernible flavour. It's the kind of breakfast that leaves you feeling good about the day and wanting to smugly hashtag #cleaneating #healthyeats #goodforyourinsides and all other #healthy proclamations guaranteed to get you likes from the other nutrition obsessed. Sadly no #paleo though - damn grains.

B's pretty waffles went down a treat and after I snuck a bite, I blissfully remembered the greatness that is waffles. Seriously, freshly made hot waffles with crispy edges are amazing and ought to be the new donut stat. With all those surfaces available to be made crunchy, they're SO much better than those soft doughy things and are delightful either with a simple sweet maple syrup or amazing amped up with salty savoury toppings... Although thinking about the incredible-ness that is the sweet + savoury equation, why have none of the many donut bakers really gotten behind savoury donuts? Asian bakeries have been pumping out their weird sausage and pork floss versions forever?! Something to think about... Anyway, back to the ranch (ranch being Gauge's waffles), these waffles were only lightly sweetened with a faint fermented tang from the sourdough used. The rich parsnip custard was almost savoury and freeze dried honey added intensified pops of sweetness. 

I also managed to score a bite of C's dish by throwing out the old 'Would you like to try some of mine? No? Oh thanks, yes I'd LOVE to try some of yours' play. Thanks C! The ash sourdough had a slightly different flavour but hard to pinpoint in one mouthful. The beef was seasoned well and deliciously tender and didn't feel overly rich. The almond cream added (wait for it...) creaminess which muted the intense unami of the XO sauce mixed through the beef. I didn't get any of the egg or tomatoes but I imagine they both contribute well to the dish in both texture and flavour.

After finishing our breakfasts and reluctantly admitting it was time to start work, we walked up to the counter to pay. With the use of the hi-tech iPad payment system, we were able to split the bill which is ridiculously convenient. Perched on the counter were also some croissants and other pastries, all of which looked delicious and perfect for takeaway with your coffee.

Gauge is not somewhere you'd go to get a simple bacon and egg dish (though I'm sure their version is excellent) and isn't targeting the starving hungover person, unless they order multiple meals. What they are providing is deceptively complicated dishes in the guise of simplicity and they are doing it damn well. I cannot wait to get there for lunch and dinner one day and I expect this won't be the last time I choose it for breakfast either. The coffee is excellent and the menu options, although minus many gluten-free options, are outstanding. Service was friendly and good, although we did have a bit of difficulty in getting our waiter's attention a few times from our dark corner spot. Congratulations Gauge, you've raised the breakfast bar in Brisbane to an impressive height.


77 Grey St
South Brisbane

DF | V | VV


Food | 9
Coffee | 8
Service | 7
Menu Options | 9
Value | 8

See ratings for details.

Gauge Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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