Desserts are meant to be sweet endings to a well-rounded meal. Yet, friends who know me well or colleagues whom shared many seminar meeting lunches with me know that I sometimes start with dessert or almost always go for the sweets midway. A dessert fiend just cannot wait but sink its teeth into an oozy gooey creamy mess or a sweet multi-textured layered concoction.
Above is a good example of a well-executed textured oozy dessert, from Artichoke Cafe and Bar. It was a cottony soft date cake swimming in a sweet yet light caramel cream, topped with delightful bites of bouncy coffee jelly and sprinkled generously with crushed nuts. If this description don't send you running right to the cafe, I don't know what will.. it's basically dessert haven for me! I lapped it up totally.
Artichoke is a cafe with a differentiation. Its food has a middle-eastern influence and the guys at Artichoke certainly do not scrimp on quality nor quantity! Portions are huge and the dishes are hearty, brunch items are generally served with large slices of well-toasted Za'atar bread which was explained as Turkish bread when asked. I like that the menu is focused; this usually means the chefs turn out consistent well-tested favourites. They also have a different menu for day versus night, and tweak their menu offerings frequently which is a smart idea. I would love to go back to try their dinner items. Only wish I had was if they could only have a couple of white meat items as their dishes are pork/lamb/crab/veg.
Nonetheless, I love my brunch dish, the organic mushrooms with haloumi cheese with a large za'atar bread and huge portion of scrambled eggs. The mushrooms were marinated sweetly, the eggs were fluffy, the bread was crusty and chewy, and the cheese was really interesting. It's my first time having this cheese; hidden beneath the leaves, it was a slab of light yellow firm cheese, it's like a portobello version of mushroom, almost meaty in texture, very interesting but slightly too salty for my taste bud; good for sharing around the table.
My partners in food crime had the top sellers; the Bacon & Sweet Potato hash and the Lamb Shakshouka.
The bacon are not what you would usually expect. If you have read other reviewers' post, you probably have already seen that they serve their bacon steak-style.. in a large long thick slab. This dish came with many pieces of bacon cut into chunks, tenderly cooked, and without the layers of fat that usually comes with it. Thumbs up, even from a non-porky person like me. The star of this dish for me is the sweet potato, toasted on the outside, soft and sweet inside, I think there is a maple sauce coating or that could be from the meat that flavored the hash as well. If it's grilled chicken, I would definitely order this for myself.
The lamb was minced into the sauce, and its served with eggs baked in it, topped with toasted crushed pistachio. Wow, love the sauce. I soaked up quite a fair bit of the lovely tomato stew with my za'atar! According to my lamb-eating friends the lamb did not have the strong lamb taste that I steer away from and it's well-liked amongst the table. It's a large serving, good to share as well.
Despite the crowd, the service was good and prompt. They even called me a few days ahead to ask if I needed a baby chair since I mentioned that we have a child amongst us when I made the reservation 2 weeks ago. Impressed! Definitely a place I would repeat.
Artichoke Cafe + Bar
161 middle road