I knew I was going to miss western food and coffee even before I came to Beijing. I’ve been craving and craving but the 2 coffees I’ve had here so far were both terrible beyond description. I’m glad my stomach managed to partly stock up on caffeine and eggs before the trip but I was a bit sad that the few brunch places I went to were all a bit hit and miss. One of them was the Coin Laundry Cafe.
Named after its predecessor (obviously was actually a coin laundry), it takes after its counterparts in terms of unpainted red bricks and somewhat industrial look. Although it does a bit better that it wasn’t set in an actual warehouse.
This place is famous for the long wait as they are quite popular but there was enough things to keep us entertained. Yuye and I first perused through the menu and the specials board which was written on butchers paper hanging a metre high to decide what to get.
Then we looked around the room at the funny ceiling – I still have no idea what the cloth things are. Is it decorations? Or to cover vents? If someone knows, please tell me so my curiosity doesn’t kill me.
And then at the partly visible kitchen where chefs were busy preparing dishes.
It was interesting that to save space, there are hooks on the wall for chairs to hang (instead of clothes)…
It also boggled my mind to see bread and cakes just sitting around outside without a glass case. Wouldn’t they get dirty or dried out? Maybe the number of orders keep the bread flow going…
I have a fetish for coffee machines so staring that it kept me happy for a while too.
Finally, we hopped next door to a gorgeous little deli/grocery store called The Little Grocer to use up more time.
It was a fascinating shop which sold gourmet breads (apparently sourced from Vue De Monde) and a wonderful selection of kitchen essentials such as salts, oils and herbs.
We came across the nicest smelling smoked sea salt that we just had to buy it. If you have a bit of time before you get a seat, it doesn’t hurt to pop next door and check this grocer out.
Finally we were given a table and we happily sat down to make our long awaited orders. The dashes of purple across the table really caught my eye as I love the vibrant colour. Adding a little bit of colour to an otherwise browny room really can lift ones mood.
Not surprisingly, Yuye started the meal with a cappuccino ($3.50 – like omg I can’t believe coffees in Melbourne are so cheap because in China it costs $7-8 for a CRAP one). It was very aromatic and beautiful, especially in the afternoon sun and the rustic table setting. I realised (now that I’ve been in China for a while), being able to see and taste beautiful coffees is such a blessing.
Surprise! I actually didn’t order a coffee. Ever since I was told Seven Seeds served the nicest hot chocolate which I failed to order during my visit, I’ve just been dying to have one so this is what I ordered. A hot chocolate. This hot chocolate was quite nice but nothing too fancy (apparently Seven Seeds serves it with a bar of chocolate to dip in the piping hot drink), although it did come with a marshmallow.
We finished these drinks and our water before our meals even arrived, but then only to find that part of my order was wrong. I had ordered a ‘Coin Laundry breakfast of smashed avocado, roma tomatoes, bacon, beetroot relish, baby spinach & poached eggs’ for $17.50 with an extra side of ‘house cured ocean trout’ at $5.50. The waiter had mistakenly thought I wanted to change the bacon to the ocean trout. :S
It was quickly rectified though with my bacon as a side instead. It was a huge meal which I couldn’t really fault as all the elements were very delicious. The cured trout especially was a highlight of the dish for me and it went perfectly with the sweet relish and warm baked tomatoes.
The very sad thing was the bread. It was so hard (the rind probably got damp) that my knife could hardly go through it. I used up a lot of energy to cut the bread into pieces and made my hand very sore, not to mention my gums were cut by the sharp edges that it was painful even a few hours after the meal.
An even bigger disappointment still (you think that was it?) was the eggs. It was meant to be a highlight for me but as I cut through the first egg, I was overcome with disappointment. The yolk wasn’t runny! This means the poached eggs were overcooked. I cut into the second one and it was slightly better (as it was bigger) but the disappointment from the first egg couldn’t be wiped away. The eggs were perfectly round though so I give them a clap for that.
Yuye ordered the ‘corned beef sandwich served on toasted rye with sweet mustard picle, gruyere cheese, lettuce & potato crisps with lemon salt’ for $14.50. So we were told after we made the order that the delivery guy didn’t deliver corned beef. Rather, it was roast beef instead. We didn’t mind the change so stuck to our choice.
But guess what potato crisps are? I wouldn’t have guessed it anyway but it was in fact potato chips which looked and tasted like they came from a packet from the supermarket. I would rather have preferred hot chips that was ‘crispy’ because frankly, these crisps didn’t go with the sandwich in any way. At ALL. Not sure what the chef or menu planner was thinking.
The even SADDER story here was again, the bread. It was even tougher than mine. At least mine could be cut (or attempt to) but Yuye’s had to be bitten. This as a result broke a whole layer of my upper gums that I needed to use mouthwash when I got home. Taste wise was not bad, the mustard and pickles went well with the roast beef but other than that, I was really not a fan, neither was Yuye.
We left feeling quite disappointed. Coin Laundry is high on the breakfast/brunch scene on Urbanspoon but not sure why we had such an unsatisfactory experience. Maybe it was just that day? Maybe the usual chef was away or the usual ingredients were unavailable? Either way, I won’t be returning. Sorry Coin Laundry, even with your nice service and atmosphere, it’s just not enough to cover for the bad meal and the long wait.
If you’re in the neighbourhood, sure go for a coffee because it was lovely, but I can’t say the same for the meals. At least, I recommend not going for anything with bread. It’s usually quite hard for me to dislike a restaurant but I can’t think of a better word in this case.
Question time: How long would you wait for a meal before you think it’s not worth it, even if the restaurant is supposed to be good?
Coin Laundry Cafe
Phone: (03) 9500 1888
61 Armadale St, Armadale VIC 3143