CIOCCOLATO ESPRESSO, Applecross
by JENNY D’ANGER:
I FIGURED we were onto a good thing when, in a biting breeze, even the alfresco seating was at a premium at Cioccolato Espresso in Applecross.
Our party of four hovered inside like circling vultures and when movement was detected we swooped on the (not yet) vacant chairs.
A couple of piping hot coffees warmed frozen fingers while we checked out the extensive menu, after more than a passing glance at the cake selection.
Narrowing the choice was made easier by the fact breakfast is unavailable after 1pm, so we focused on lunch.
There’s a terrific selection of vegetarian dishes: two usually meat-eating members of the party even ditched their carnivorous ways in favour of the butternut pumpkin and fetta parcel ($18) and the vegetarian frittata ($17).
Both were magnificently rich in flavour, the sesame seeds sprinkled on the parcel gave it an extra zing, and the garden-fresh side salads came in for a special mention for their delicious dressing.
The size of my vegetable stack burger ($20) made my jaw drop, not quite low enough to cram the huge offering into my mouth without some serious fork work first.
Once I’d worked out how to tackle this monster it was heaven on a fork, a devilishly delicious mix of basil pesto and garlic mayo with field mushroom, haloumi and pumpkin.
The fourth member of the crew had been tempted by the corned beef brisket on a bed of smashed cauliflower, leek and potato ($20) and tucked in with relish, although he did come up for air to say the beef would have been a tad dry without its accompanying bed of vegetables.
Our separate sweets stomach hadn’t forgotten the cakes singing their siren song so it was back to the counter to order.
I shared a generous slice of apple and quince cake ($6.50), a wonderfully moist morsel, part-pie, part-cake.
The peppermint slice ($4.50) was a hit with its chocolate and mint flavours, and the passionfruit cream with the scone was delightful ($4.50).
Having hogged a table for long enough we took pity on others circling outside and headed into the wonderful winter sunshine.
31 Ardross Street, Applecross
open 7 days breakfast and