WHEN a bloke with a substantial and obvious pot belly gets warned about the size of the steak sanger on the menu, you can be pretty certain it’s going to get you through until dinner.
The waitress at Mary Street Bakery showed admirable motherly concern as I ordered an entree of fruit toast ($6.50) to warm up before the classic steak sambo ($19).
“You know the steak sandwich is about this big,” she said, arcing her hands like a wagon wheel across the table.
I didn’t, but having dragged my son out of bed at 5am so “he” could go skateboarding, I was now starving and the description was good news. Little did she know I was set on polishing both off and then heading towards the baked sweets the cafe is famous for.
Well, you can’t just review a steak sandwich and fruit toast, can you?
I felt a little naughty choosing a simple meal when Mary Street’s best known for its more exotic fare, but on this day everything else on offer seemed a bit brunchy rather than lunchy.
I just had time to slip in a very smooth flat white ($4) and check out the surrounds and customers before the food arrived.
Mary Street Bakery has almost as much funk as Tower of Power. Polished concrete floors, a parquetry counter and wooden tables and chairs that reminded me of my music lessons with the good Sisters of the Apparition; austere but with a noble purpose.
I must confess that while my belly was good for momentum on the skate park, I was a little clumsy trying to extricate myself from behind the tightly-packed tables in the corner. But I was the odd one out, as most patrons seemed as young and hip as the cafe itself, and won’t be worrying about their girth for a decade or two.
A couple of thick slices of fruit toast came out, and my first reaction was that the griller was on the blink, as one edge was a little black. But after closer inspection I passed it off as merely “caramelised” and tucked in.
With lashings of butter it was delicious, packed with lots of fruity bits and lovely, fresh and sweet.
Shortly after the steak sambo arrived, living up to its size and its promise. A thick slab of juicy rump between two thick slices of toast (this time the griller seemed to have got over its lop-sided moment), it was tender and delicious.
The aioli was thick enough to be noticed but not enough to be overpowering and the thin layer of butter lettuce was fresh and crisp. It really was a top sanger.
As for those baked treats? Well … I have to admit the sambo outdid me and there was no room for anything else. But I’ll head back and give them a review of their own — might be time to move those tables a bit further apart.
by STEVE GRANT
Mary Street Bakery
507 Beaufort Street, Highgate
7am – 3pm
0499 509 300