Friday, October 9, 2009

Review: Rosa's Kitchen

288 Unwins Bridge Road
(Cnr Park Road)

The brightly coloured paint used to coat the outside of Rosa's Kitchen symbolised the burgeoning hope of many Sydenham/Tempe residents that the culinary wasteland that exists in this region was soon to be fertilized. Peeks in the shop window prior to opening had many wondering if it were to be a cafe, or a gourmet food store... things were looking very promising.

Squeak and I thought we'd pop in to see if all of this hope was to be fulfilled. What we discovered was certainly a spark of hope, but certainly tempered with some disappointment. This is a place that seems to not be wholly focused on what it wants to be, and there seems to be a lot of unfulfilled potential. 

When we arrived for some breakfast we discovered that the only real seating is one communal table to seat around 6 people and some bar seating at the window. There was no menu, so the friendly 'Rosa' (we presume) told us some of the things we could choose from... this doesn't really allow people to peruse and ponder... and as such, Squeak (feeling under pressure) ordered the uninspiring vegemite toast!
When it arrived, it looked like it could have done with a little more toasting, and it also arrived with the dreaded pre-packaged butter. However, Squeak said the toast was quite good - as far as toast goes.  Of course, it all had to be washed down with  - you guessed it - green tea! The tea apparently had a smoky taste which was not unpleasant, and it arrived in a very cute 1.5 cup pot.

Some of  the items mentioned by Rosa were a Benedict Panini, Breakfast bruschetta with salmon, toast with jam and ricotta, and Waffles with mascarpone or ricotta with Rhubarb compote. None of the breakfast offerings really spoke to me, however I ordered the Waffles with ricotta and Rhubarb compote.  Now this is where things get a little tricky. The waffles were quite small; cute - but small - there's no denying it. However as I was eating, and quite enjoying it, I was thinking..well... they probably will only be about $8.00. That's ok..... however.... Squeak and I eat out for breakfast every single weekend. We know what is on offer for breakfast around Sydney, and we know how much we can expect to pay for it. And while these waffles were undeniably tasty - the rhubarb sweetly tart,  the ricotta creamy and a perfect accompaniment, and a drizzle of sweet maple syrup - they do not stack up against what many other establishments in Sydney are serving for the same price. Mind you, I am only guessing at the price as we were really just presented with a total, and we tried to figure out how much things were ourselves. All up, it cost $23. Not expensive.... but we need to bear in mind that we got some tiny waffles, a coffee, a tea and some vegemite toast. I certainly didn't expect it to crack the $20 mark. If they want to be a cafe, then breakfast offerings, their portion sizes and pricing will need some fine tuning. Harsh perhaps... but realistic.

On the other hand, I don't know if Rosa's Kitchen is trying to be a cafe. It seems like they are also trying to be a gourmet food store. There are some homemade sweet treats on offer such as a Tempe take on Florentines, called Tempetines, as well as caramel slices, banana bread etc and they also have a range of freshly made items such as Lasagne, Pies and Coq au Vin with mash that can be taken away daily. Rosa's Kitchen also stock some varieties of 'Pastabilities', 'Serendipity' icecream, as well as 'Lotus & Ming' pork buns and dim sum. So it's a good start, but it just seems a little half baked. First impressions count - and the great shelving they have could have been stocked with Simon Thompson, Bitton, Maggie Beer, and Christine Manfield products and the locals would really feel like they belonged to the funky, up and coming inner west area.

So Squeak and I are left with a dilemma. How do you judge a place that doesn't seem to know what it wants to be? It isn't really a cafe, there are no menus as such, and there isn't enough seating; it isn't really a gourmet food store - there simply isn't the range. We haven't given up on it entirely though. There seemed to be a fairly consistent run of locals coming in for take-away coffee, so hopefully Rosa's Kitchen will find its feet, decide what it really wants to be and take off from there.  There is a glimmer of hope Sydenham / Tempe residents... just hang in there!

Rosa's Kitchen on Urbanspoon


Aaron T said...

ouch.. Very harsh. From the date of your post they had only been open for a week. Im a regular there, i dare you to try the place again.

Buggles and Squeak said...

Actually Aaron, not harsh at all. Went there last week to sample some coffee & cake....big mistake.
The selection was poor to say the least, so ended up with what was supposed to be a White chocolate & coconut muffin & a caramel slice.
The muffin was dry & bland & the caramel slice not much better.
Rosa still seemed clueless as to what was available in her own cafe.
That this cafe appears to be so popular (especially on weekends), attests to the fact that there is nothing else in the area...

Anonymous said...

Went there last Sunday AM with average expectations. The food in the display looked good and the use of space looked practicle. After all there is nothing much around there (Danas is shut on Sundays, Marickville Sth).

Asked for a "strong" skim flat white and got a weak one.

New talent said the Bacon and egg pies (which looked fab, but were just on the counter, no chill or heat control, Come in HACCP man!) were $5.50.

After a short walk to the playground, decided to give the B&E Pies the benefit of doubt and returned.

Takeaway EB Tea took forever to get. Pies were aparantley $6.90 each, which I would not have bought if I knew they were that much. But apparently, I was supposed to read the perspex menu card.

Thought it must have been their first day opening.

To be honest, the food in the cabinet looked great and I commended the owner on the food, but there is a few improvements that need to be made. Largely in the FOH.

Anonymous said...

Rosa's is a real oasis in a very barren desert for food! I love the place and it has just gotten better and better. Love the coffee and the selection of possible snacks and treats. Definitely recommend a try.

Buggles and Squeak said...

we may give it another burl... but from the three attempts we have made... not real impressed unfortunately. We think it is great that something has opened in the area... we just want more of them, and better.

POB said...

I read your blogs then went there. Had great eggs and very good coffee, and reckon I will be a regular when I move nearby soon. I'm glad there's something decent in the neighbourhood.