In Short: Relaxed warm ambiance, Paleo menu, espressos, milk coffee and cold brew.
For our first Canberra cafe post, I grappled on which cafe I should feature. You see, I grew up in Canberra in a time where coffee was confined to the shopping centre doughnut store or it was a drink that was listed alongside Coke, lemonade and milkshakes. Starbucks only arrived in Canberra when I had left the city in the late 90s, and even that was a big deal. In the last decade Canberra has gone through a coffee and food transformation. Fine coffee and delicious cafe fare are in abundance. In fact, the best barista in the world hails from Canberra. So then, enough of me going off on a tangent, which cafe? Do I feature a doyen of the cafe scene or opt for something new and exciting. I choose the latter. Abandoning my normal fastidious method of café selection, I simply walk into Elemental in Braddon. Only after enjoying a fabulous lunch with extremely good coffee do I come to know that Elemental is actually a Paleo eatery. While online literature waxes lyrical about its Paleo roots, I was excited that food did all the talking.
Before I tell you about the food, first to arrive at the table was a coffee platter comprised of espresso, cold brew and piccolo. First off, the presentation was first rate. I loved the symmetry of the presentation. While each cup was different, their sizes were about equivalent and sat perfectly on the wooden board. I launched into the espresso, and was hit with a punch of citrus flavours. There’s a nice level of acidity, though the tang fades away nicely and there’s no after taste. The crema is spot on and the viscosity is just about perfect, not too watery, and not too thick.
After my espresso, it was not too long before I started on the cold brew. One word for Elemental’s cold brew, stunning! It almost didn’t taste like coffee. It was delectably sweet, and I got the flavours of lychee on my palate. I love my tropical fruits, so this cold brew was a joy to sip and savour! I was having lunch with my Mum and she’s almost never strayed away from a mocha, yet she was quite impressed when I offered her a sip.
Completing a trio of perfectly constructed coffees was a piccolo. To me a piccolo is a supercharged latte. This piccolo from Elemental has that perfect layer of foam. There’s about an inch of it. The Red Brick Espresso blend was filled with flavour. Temperature is ideal, as is the coffee to milk ratio. I love how the flavours of the coffee cut through the silky milk more potently than a latte or cap. A nice touch is the addition of choc-coated coffee beans, which are a treat as I sample them with my coffee.
The two plates I select at Elemental, are all about a hero protein surrounded by little flavour explosions. Both my Mum and I let out a little wow when the hot smoked salmon arrives. It’s a beautifully presented plate with that salmon sitting pretty with a beetroot and kale slaw, aioli, poached egg and pesto. The smoked salmon comes from Pialligo Estate Smokehouse which is home to the best bacon in country. They also know how to treat the Tasmanian salmon too. There’s a beautiful smoky aroma that wafts up from the plate, yet the fish still has that distinct subtle flavour. The salsa verde cuts through the richness of the fish, and the aioli adds a nice mustard kick. There’s a freshness from the kale and betroot slaw. A perfectly poached egg mixed in with the salmon is just luxurious!
I should have picked up on the Paleo theme with the breakfast cave plate. I just thought it was a creatively named menu item, silly me! Pialligo Estate goodies features again with their award winning bacon with two poached eggs, roasted tomato, protein bread with a side of mushrooms. The bacon is super sweet, smoky and heavenly! Coating it with oozing poached eggs, is just divine. The surprise for me was the protein bread. It was slightly crispy, yet curiously a bright hue of yellow. The secret ingredient is tumeric. It’s only enough to turn it yellow. I love the taste, it’s almost cake like in texture. There’s seeds which add an extra layer of texture too. Proof again, even if its Paleo inspired you are not missing out in one iota of flavour and yumminess!
While Lonsdale Street may be filled to the brim with cafes, and genuine powerhouses of the cafe scene, Elemental more than holds it own with their great coffee and inspired menu. I am sure my mum will be pleased to be able to go tell her friends of her find of Elemental. I am telling you all, when in Canberra, it really is elementary that you head to Elemental.