Queuing is one of the only downsides of food writing, and seeing the restive crowds waiting outside Left Field – pram-pushing mothers in gym tights and puffy vests, young couples and a remarkable amount of Carnegie’s handsomest hounds – doesn’t fill our hearts with gladness. Then the lady with the clip board announces that the wait is 35 minutes. We wander off for 20, only to return to discover we’ve been deemed MIA and struck off the list. However, we are assured of the next table, and the sight of those who went before us chomping merrily away buoys our spirits.
The owners of Tall Timber, Marquis of Lorne and Rustica Canteen (among others) have opened up Left Field on a residential stretch of Koornang Road. Judging by the number of people willing to stand for their supper until a space becomes free the Left Field team are kicking goals.
Clean and bright with timber features throughout and touches of ocean blue and mint-green, the café has large windows that let in plenty of natural light. There’s outside seating too, where the pooches perch. In winter you’ll be glad to warm your mitts on their balanced Niccolo coffee, Golden Grind (an exotic turmeric, cinnamon and ginger drink) or sweet chai latte. The food is splendid too, with on-trend breakfast and lunch meals. Many are wholesome, like the bircher muesli and poached egg breakfasts; others, such as the donut sliders, are a little more wicked.
The pulled pork brioche (firmly in the wicked camp) arrives with a steak knife plunged dramatically into its centre. The charcoal sesame seed bun is sliced twice. On the bottom level is an inviting coalescence of melted cheese and sticky, sweet, glossy and tender pulled pork with a splodge of mild chilli mayo. Cabbage slaw occupies the next level and is zippy with lime, chilli, mint and coriander. It’s one juicy union.
A Middle Eastern cauliflower, kale and chickpea Hash is not so much a hash as a cauliflower salad. Bulbous, charred and blackened florets mingle with shredded kale and chickpeas, while two eggs (whose yolks confirm perfect poaching) nest on top. Hummus binds everything while pomegranate seeds bring studs of colour and sweetness. Omnivores might like to augment the dish with a side of bacon. If so, don’t expect a sad little plate of tokenistic rashers – here it’s wound into the dish, adding a memorable crisp and salty hit.
The sweets cabinet at the counter houses homely tea time-type treats. We loved the thick, buttery chocolate chip cookie with nuggetty choc chunks and the soft lemon and cherry cake.
Service veers between officious and charming, though it’s mostly the latter – no mean feat when it’s so busy. And it’s easy to see why: good location, good food, good looking. Patrons are voting with their feet. And paws.