Visiting Amsterdam Street left me feeling somewhat frustrated. It’s a nice café with personality, respectable food and friendly staff. It seems to get most of the major things right ... but then lets itself down on some of the little things. This means that while still a good little café and obviously popular, it should be better. It should be a very good local café worth crossing a few suburbs to try.
Given that it's in a bright red building it would still be surprisingly easy to miss Amsterdam Street if you weren't looking for it. It's not located on the corner of Amsterdam and Church, but slightly up Amsterdam Street. When I first saw it with a big four wheel drive parked in front from the outside it looked more like a furniture store more than a café.
I do like the interior set up - cheerful and lots of natural sunlight even on a fairly miserable day. Comfy seating, big red water bottles and an open kitchen set up to provide some entertainment. The only negatives are the tables are very close together, so that when squeezing out of a corner seat the guy at the next table needed to get up from his chair so I could get past.
The breakfast with the most issues was the scrambled eggs on polenta, with bacon and mushrooms. The eggs were lacking in flavour, the mushrooms and polenta a bit overcooked as well as the polenta being a little oily. On the plus sides the bacon was nicely crispy and the concept of the dish is good, it just lacked a bit in execution. All up a fairly average sort of dish.
The eggs Benedict were much better. Nice ham on a toasted but creeping towards too hard muffin with a rich hollandaise sauce. The eggs were done fractionally more than I prefer them, but were close enough that you could put it down to a personal preference rather than being overdone. A generous serving of an above average eggs Benedict.
But the dish with the most going for it was the French toast. When I saw how thick the toast was I was expecting quite a heavy dish. Instead the toast was light and fluffy. The maple syrup was served on the side (always a big plus in my book) and the bacon was crispy, almost to the extent of being overdone. What was a bit strange and didn't work was the addition of strawberries. I don't know why they were there as they weren't on the menu, and while certainly colourful they clashed with the other flavours. Next time I'd just push them to the side.
One thing I have to comment on is the service. It's undoubtedly some of the friendliest I've come across. But it's also quite disorganised. A waitress not writing down a order but having to later confirm some aspects of it, someone else's coffees being brought to the table, waiting twenty minutes for green tea. I'll forgive a lot for a smile from the waiting staff but it wasn't really up to scratch.
Anyway, I do like Amsterdam Street but feel that with a bit of work it could be much better. It's not a large place and the number of staff seemed adequate, it's just a matter of getting themselves better organised. Two of the three dishes were fairly good, although the other had some issues. If I was a local I try it again in a few months just to see if it could iron out its problems, but it's probably a bit far for me to go given there are so many other places I want to try.
Food - 7
Ambience - 7
Service - 6
Price - 6.5
1 Amsterdam St
Richmond, VIC 3121
Tel: (03) 9421 0690