7 | 2 | 2 | 2
- One of the better cafes in Sydney
- Unique Asian inspired menu
- Everything on the menu falls just short
- Still nowhere near Melbourne cafe quality
- Breakfast at the Sakuma’s
TL;DR – Devon is one of the better cafes in Sydney. Its unique Asian inspired menu, however, falls short of making Devon a great cafe.
I have mixed feelings for Devon on Danks and Devon Cafe. On the one hand, they are one of the better cafes in Sydney, serving good Asian influenced food. On the other hand, I feel like I should love this place. But I don’t. Not even close.
One of the worst feelings in the world is disappointment, and this is what I feel every time I eat at Devon. I’m disappointed because Devon could so easily be great.
Much like Hammer and Tong, my favourite cafe in the world, chef and owner, Zachary Tan, brings an Asian influenced (Penang, Malaysia) cafe menu inspired by his fine dining background at Guillaume.
On paper, everything on Devon’s menu looks perfect; it could fit right into the Melbourne cafe scene on Fitzroy’s Brunswick Street and not skip a beat. However, when it came to execution, each dish was missing that last detail or element. The thing that adds the wow factor. The thing that takes a dish from good to great. Whether it be the “straight outta Coles” bun in an otherwise brilliant fried chicken burger or the icy soft serve in an otherwise perfect dessert, these missing details inevitably lead to the downfall of the entire dish, and when combined together, leads to the downfall of Devon.
Despite its rave reviews and as good as Devon is, it is no Melbournian cafe. Not even close.
But maybe I’m just being bitter. It has every single element to be a great cafe, and for the sake of Sydney, I hope it gets there.
The Truffle Soft Serve – $15 (8/10)
Starting with dessert because truffle. Yes that’s right. Truffle in a dessert.
So how was the most Instagrammed dessert in August 2015? It was pretty good, and I’d gladly have it again, but the reports of its epicness have been greatly exaggerated.
Milk and Truffle Soft Serve, Truffle Honey, Truffle Salt and Truffle Shavings. There is so much truffle in this, I’m surprised there wasn’t truffle in the cone as well. Yet the flavours of truffle were subtle and balanced. The truffle salt enhances the sweetness of the soft serve, while the truffle and honey, a match made in heaven, adds a smoothness and a lingering aftertaste on your palate.
But the soft serve itself was simply too icy. Truffle and water is possibly one of the worst combinations.
It’s a shame really, because if the soft serve was just half smooth and creamy, it would have been one of the best desserts I’ve had in Sydney. For now, Quay’s Eight Textured Chocolate Cake still holds the mantle.
Breakfast with the Sakuma’s – Miso Grilled King Salmon, Smoked Eel Croquette, 63° Egg, Radish Petit Salad & Kewpie Mayonnaise – $25 (8/10)
A dish that needs no introduction, Devon’s signature dish, Breakfast with the Sakuma’s. Probably as close as Sydney will ever get to topping Melbourne’s cafe food.
This is a crowd pleaser dish, with almost everything a hipster is looking for in a cafe dish. Eggporn – Check. Salmon – Check. Kewpie – Check.
Naturally, with such a star-studded list of ingredients, the dish was always going to be good. Salmon is grilled well and melts in your mouth with the runny egg and kewpie adding creaminess. Croquette has absolutely no hint of smokiness or eel, but adds much needed crunch texture to the dish. The radish salad is refreshing and slightly acidic, which cuts through the heaviness of the whole dish, keeping it in balance.
But I feel like this dish could be so much more. A salmon dish alone can be 9/10, I’ve had egg dishes that would be 9/10, I’ve had croquettes that I would rate 9/10. But all these put together results in a dish that only scores 8/10. A great dish is one that is more than the sum of its parts, and a dish with such great ingredients should be one of the best dishes in Sydney. I can’t help but think that this dish is a wasted opportunity to do something amazing.
The Manny P Burger – Annatto Spiced Fried Chicken Fillet, Chilli Mayo, Fragrant Herbs, Pickles, Chips – $19 (6.5/10)
Once again, a good burger falls to a terrible bun.
Named after the aggressive Filipino boxer, one of the best in our generation, I had much higher expectations and expected the burger to pack a punch (har har).
The Annatto Spiced Fried Chicken Fillet itself was fried well; juicy and flavoursome, works well with the chilli mayo. But that’s where the compliments end.
The bun, one of, if not the most, important components of a burger felt like it was straight outta Coles. Almost as if it was an afterthought. Cold, flat, lifeless.
The chips were almost a standard as the bun itself. Fried well, but there was nothing noteworthy about these at all. Even the kewpie couldn’t make them interesting. They should have gone the extra mile and gone for twice cooked chips or beer battered chips, like Three Williams.
Spanner Crab – Homemade Pasta with Spanner Crab, Cherry Tomato & Garlic – $25 (4/10)
The Spanner Crab Pasta felt out of place on the Devon menu. There was almost no Asian-influence in this pasta dish at all, apart from the fact that it was terrible.
Completely too watery, and bland as a result. The pasta itself was made and cooked well at least.
Bacon Lard Cronut – $6.50 (6.5/10)
Because cronuts weren’t unhealthy enough already.
Unfortunately this was definitely an exercise in overkill. I can never resist anything with lard in it, but lard with what is already basically fat, is probably a mistake I won’t make again.
There was a subtle undertone of bacon smokiness, but the fact that it was overly sweet not only killed the balance, but makes it near impossible to eat more than 2 bites.
I still don’t think the cronuts (or cronnies) themselves at Devon are as good as the cronuts at Brewtown Newtown, but you go to Devon for the interesting Asian-inspired flavours such as Matcha, Milo or Pork Floss.
So fellow foodies, do you think the cafe scene is better in Sydney or Melbourne?