Considering that we live only ten minutes’ walk away from Rochester Park, we certainly don’t come here often enough. Before Sunday, our first and only time was back in June last year, to the Da Paolo Bistro Bar.
We’ve always been wary of Graze, because I’ve read mixed reviews about it, some of them none too objective. Still, the allure of their legendary brunch item, the cast iron skillet, proved too tempting, and we finally caved on Sunday.
The cast iron skillet is essentially a chic twist on a classic English fry-up. You get the whole works – a sunny side up egg, two sausages, heaps of bacon, baked beans, diced new potatoes, sautéed button mushrooms, a roasted tomato and plum chilli salsa, all in a skillet that arrives at the table still sizzling hot. Be very careful, the skillet is and remains hot throughout your meal.
I must say it lived up to expectations. The mushrooms were buttery and delicious, the potatoes nice and crispy. But somehow, if I were to rate fry-ups, I’d still pick the all-day breakfast at The Penny Black. That, to me, is a perfect fry-up. The Graze sausages, though very tasty, were just a bit too herbed for my liking. Fry-up sausages should just be classic English pork sausages. The plum chilli salsa too was a chi-chi element that I could have done without. All these trappings elevate the dish above what a fry-up should traditionally be. Maybe I’m just a simple bloke at heart… None-too-surprisingly, A preferred the fry-up here, in particular the sausages and the salsa. And who’s simple folk now?
A’s choice was the baked omelette, where you get to choose four toppings. He chose bacon, ham, smoked salmon and mushrooms. The cast iron skillet was definitely better, but this was pretty good too. Definitely better (and better value) than the Portobello Mushroom Stack at PS Café’s brunch. Even the salad wasn’t neglected; it came with a really good dressing, perhaps made from some of the interesting sauces and oils that you can purchase from their in-house store.
Speaking of which, they served us a couple of slices of toast to start off with, so we had it with the home-made lavender honey that was conveniently at our table. The honey was delicious, and they do sell jars of it in their store too. I was half tempted to get a jar, but I’m sure the bread makes a big difference; I doubt it’ll taste as good with simple sliced Gardenia, so we’ll just have it here instead.
The ambience is quite pleasant and they provide loads of magazines for your leisurely reading, indicating that they encourage you to sit back and chill. That’s pretty much the reason for the restaurant name – you’re expected to take your time, graze, savour your food and just relax. They have a barbeque menu that looks quite interesting. Since it’s really close to home, we don’t have to worry about the parking situation (gloat), so we’ll definitely be back for more.
Surprisingly good value. You could probably find the quality ingredients and make the stuff yourself, but it’s just sooo much easier to come here.
You can tell people come for the outdoor ambience because everyone was dining alfresco except for us. If you hate the heat as much as I do, you’ll be glad to know the indoor area is nice and cool.
The staff are also surprisingly friendly to sloppy folk like us (except for one slightly snooty chick).
Note to self: Coffee is good but portions are small. Flat white is slightly better than Cappuccino.
4 Rochester Park
Breakfast/Brunch: Sunday 9am to 3pm
Lunch: Sunday 12 noon to 3pm
Dinner: Tuesday to Sunday 6.30pm to midnight (last food order 10.30pm)
Bar: 6.30pm to 1 am