I’m a fairly clumsy walker. I think it’s mostly due to the fact that I’m constantly distracted by the menus of passing restaurants as I move. Sometimes it’s worth the bump and graze, and sometimes it’s not. But once in a while, you come past an eatery that can only be described as intriguing, and that beckons you inwards like a charming circus master crooking his finger at you.
And on a sunny Friday morning, Dr Faustus did just that.
Located on Cleveland Street, Dr Faustus is decked out like the apothecaries of days gone by, straight out of an old world where travelling freakshows captured the imaginations of American suburbia. Carved wood and glass showcase tall jars of psychedelic pickles, and jaunty music play through the speakers.
The menu is just, if not more inventive than the decor, and the imaginative concepts and twists in classic favourites are enough to whet any foodie’s appetite.
We ordered the Black Pudding Sandwich, Eggs 5 Ways and a Brussel Sprout Caesar to share. The Brussel Sprout Caesar was a surprise favourite: with pickled radish, crispy sopressata, and a soft quail egg on shaved brussel sprouts. I’ve never been a fan of the traditional, watery Caesar, and this has convinced me that I never want to have it the traditional way ever again. The brussel sprouts, as owner Adam explains, are sturdier than cos lettuce, holding its own against the dressing to provide lasting crunch and freshness into the very last bite. A genius way to refresh a classic with winter greens.
The Eggs 5 Ways, while visually impressive, didnt give quite the same oomph as the Caesar. A soft boiled duck and quail egg flank a beetroot pickled hens egg, on a smear of ‘red eye aioli’ – an homage to red eye gravy that features espresso as one of the defining ingredients. Fish roe tops off the egg fest, and it all looks like something that could only come out of a Tim Burton film (I’m a massive fan, if you didnt know already). The concept for this egg on egg orgy is strong, but as perfectly cooked as all the eggs were – there was no tell-tale grey ring around the yolk of the hen’s egg. I checked! – it wasn’t as ground breaking as the rest of the experience was for me.
The Black Pudding Sandwich was more than made up for it though, with its tangy sauce and generous serving of rich sausage between soft buns. Moreish and just downright delicious, this sandwich/burger is like a gateway dish to blood sausage for the queasy.
And of course, with lunch then comes dessert!
8 ball doughnuts – so named because they’re the size and shape of the 8-ball at the pool table – come in three options: plain sugared, coco pop, and fruit loop. The cereal options are really just that – cereal-infused milk gets reduced to a syrup, then decadently poured over doughnuts. Feeling the diabetes yet? The Fruit Loop was my favourite, mostly because I have a weakness for milk frostings. And they’re just so gosh darned cute! The doughnuts themselves could be just a touch lighter and less cakey, but that’s something I think will evolve as the cafe matures.
Owner Adam still fronts this fairly new cafe, and greets customers and busses the tables himself. Having worked in the hospitality business for many years, including a stint in the U.S., he’s brought his imagination and sense of humour to the table when it comes to designing a menu that will put a smile on people’s faces. Working with a head chef to execute his ideas, it feels there still are some minor executionary details that are going to get worked out as the cafe matures.
Personally, even though the food wasn’t technically perfect, I still thoroughly enjoyed my experience, and admire the passion and focus that fuel such a strong conceptually led cafe. A must-return, even if it’s just to sate my curiousity (and appetite!) about the other things on the menu.