“Stop by, stay a while” is the motto and Meanwhile is a place you would want to stay. I first found Meanwhile via Instagram (@meanwhile_cafe), seduced by its naturally clean aesthetic which features artistic plates of food, and images of the large inviting space. I tucked into a delicious breakfast of smashed eggs, broccoli and chorizo while watching people pass through Jubilee Street from one of the raised window seats, the whirl of a coffee grinder behind me. Their brunch dishes are innovative, intriguing and most importantly, impressive. I just had to stop once again for the new dinner menu.
Just out of the rush of the lanes, it could be easy to miss this space which is slightly tucked away opposite chain restaurants. The white walls and decorative foliage on the interior translate to a sense of quiet, peaceful glam. Since November, this brunch retreat has also been serving a menu of small plates and charcuterie favourites on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 5pm-10pm. Their 50% off deal is running every Thursday evening throughout January so it is the perfect month to taste test their divine dishes.
First, we browsed the drinks menu and there was a healthy choice of wines to choose from, but the classy cocktail list captivated my attention (think spicy margarita, espresso martini, old fashioned). I went for a negroni sbagliato with prosecco in it. Our lovely bartender and waiter, Nathaniel, was also very willing to compose a mocktail of fruity flavours in a martini glass too. Even if you do not fancy eating, Meanwhile has a delightful ambience for sipping your favourite drink, whether that is over ice or with an orange slice. The overhead spotlights and marble print tables are incredibly stylish while the soft, upbeat playlist encourages relaxation providing a chic but comfortable atmosphere for your conversations.
We ordered five plates between two people which consisted of two larger meat dishes, two more plates and a side. Looking at the menu I acknowledged that there were a lot of ingredients that I did not recognise and had to translate with a quick google search. Again, we were well looked after by staff who were more than happy to explain and describe the menu. I tried food I quite literally had never seen or heard of before, proving just how unique and experimental Meanwhile is. Dense in flavour and full of complimenting textures, it all seemed to work.
The first dish that was presented to us was the roasted pumpkin wedges with stracciatella. Even after we had left the restaurant, got home, and then the next morning, we remained complimentary of this plate saying, “I just can’t stop thinking about that pumpkin”. Four large wedges with a thick dollop of fresh stracciatella cheese which stretched and spread across the soft orange vegetable. The wholesome warmth of the pumpkin against the cheese was delightful, but to top it off was the scattered crunch of amaretti biscuit. It was sweet, nutty and absolutely ideal for winter.
We also ordered the grilled octopus served with aioli and roast potatoes, minimal in its ingredients but immaculate in taste and presentation. There was a tentacle in the centre, with smaller pieces of octopus chopped up too, definitely a meat to try if you haven’t already but enjoy seafood. It was not chewy as I anticipated, and while I preferred the texture of the smaller pieces of meat, the tentacle looks impressive if not anything else! Paprika aioli was the perfect pairing.
Grilled pepper with anchovies was a great palette cleanser because the lemon, chilli and parsley dressing was vibrant on the tongue. When placed on top of the sourdough, you could also taste the char of the bread which was a pleasant balance with the saltiness of the anchovies, and would also be a lovely brunch dish!
While the dishes are small plates, we were actually in awe of how large and filling they were. Next up, the porchetta, could have been enjoyed as its own dinner. It was like a fancy configuration of a Sunday roast, especially when partnered with the confit potatoes. Porchetta is a fatty cut of pork, served with a ring of crackling around it keeping the meat moist. Even though it was minimalistic to the eye, it was maximal in taste. A salsa of picked walnuts and apple flavour sat on top of the meat, once again creating the idyllic combination of sweet with savoury. Served with burnt leeks and drizzled with roasting juices, there were so many depths and elements to this one composition. Now, imagine your favourite forms of potato – mash, a tripcooked chip, a hash brown, crisps and a roast potato – put them all together and you have a confit potato. Confit potatoes are layered and cooked in fat for the ultimate crisp while the middle remains fluffy. They crumble and fall apart, but not before you catch a bite of salty perfection. Dunked into the aioli, these potatoes answered all my carbohydrate dreams.
If your mouth is not already watering, start thinking about the charcuterie option where you can choose a selection of local cheeses, chorizo and other meats because who doesn’t love cheese and wine? Compliment your conversation with an elegant spread of nibbles for a blissful evening. Meanwhile is the epitome of keeping the unexpected sophisticated. The drinks, food and atmosphere are way ahead of the trends, so make sure you grab a discounted dining experience while you can. Like myself, you will be wondering why more people do not stop by and stay a while.
The evening menu is currently available Thursday-Saturday 5pm-10pm