Don’t be fooled by the Hawaiian shirts, Southside Charmers means serious business. The brunch menu at this neighbourhood spot might be a little overwhelming at first pass (housemade shrubs, natural wines, dhal for breakfast!?), but relax – you’ve got attentive service and a vibrant room full of eye-candy to put you at ease.
Anne Cooper and George Woodyard, the hands and minds behind nearby Bart Jr, were clearly keen to pay subtle homage to the site’s past life as the beloved Eathouse Diner. (The familiar “Eat Here” sign still hangs outside.) The interior, however, has been hit by a troppo hurricane of palm fronds, fresh fruits, pastels and neon. Be sure to feast your peepers on the wall of Mexican crosses and splashes of artwork as you take your seat.
The menu predominantly features 'breakfast all day' dishes, with a few lunch items well-suited to the takeaway crowd. Thursday through Saturday nights you can slide on in for dinner, too – a move no doubt inspired by the success of Bart Jr. Just about every dish is offered with suggested additions, making it dangerously easy to splash out if you’re with a group (or if, like us, you simply struggle with self-control). Words like ‘caramelised pear brioche’ leap from the page, hoping to join your party as a plus one.
The food manages to max out on colours and textures without feeling like it was designed for social media. Ingredients hug each other in bright bundles: vivid orange egg yolks run over house-smoked salmon, with handfuls of seeds and pickles surrounding crisp potatoes, labneh and pangrattato. Awesome. Garden pesto and crunchy almonds play nice with citrusy smashed avo and green peas, but it’s better to be brave and go for a Pablo rice bowl – even the vegan option teems with flavour thanks to an umami-laden mushroom XO sauce.
Your coffee is roasted by Five Senses, and extracted from a decked-out Synesso MVP machine. Black brew is the way to go; the single-origin option keeps to the theme with fruit-tingle richness.
Other drinks are abundant in choice and beautifully presented, but a touch inconsistent. Our Miami Avenue smoothie and Bloody Mary look schmick, but both lack a bit of punch. Try a Blanche Devereaux cocktail instead, a refreshing, bang-on mix of watermelon and mezcal, or a rhubarb shrub, which feels like the tangy soft drink of a new generation.
Something we’ve noticed at all of Cooper and Woodyard’s venues (the duo used to hold the keys to Morris in Paddo and Redfern's Scout’s Honour) is that the friendly staff always have your back. They know the menu well, and it feels like you can trust them to help you find what you need. That way, you can sit back, relax and have as much fun as everyone else.