Having acquired the ability to wake up before midday on a weekend, and feeling a little adventurous, we decided to have the first brunch of the new year at the highly popular Shouk Cafe in Paddington. In fact, highly popular was quite the understatement, with a group of people waiting outside, and we were told that the wait for a table would be 40 minutes. With that, the waitress took our name and number, and we headed around to browse the nearby antique stores until we were called back after around 35 mins (because apparently some of the people decided to head elsewhere cos they didnt want to wait too long).
We were given a table at the back, which was still quite humid, despite the air-conditioning. At least we had a very good view out back.
The weekend menu had a selection of all day breakfasts, lunch meals, drinks and sides. We noticed the mention of the avocado shortage, which meant that no avocado dishes were to be served. Water was provided to us pretty quickly, but unfortunately the water was warm, when we had much preferred chilled.
Our drinks arrived rather promptly, but we were told that we were not able to order until another table (who were apparently still deciding) had ordered. My companion, who had previously worked in the hospitality was surprised, because when he worked as a waiter, people's orders were taken not by order of arrival, but by when patrons were ready to order. Nevertheless, we waited for the other table to finish deciding before ordering.
My companion had the English Breakfast, which he found comforting, whilst strong, and impressively loose leaf rather than a teabag, but he needed more than one packet of sugar. Luckily for him, I do not take my coffee with sugar, so I gave him mine.
I had a cappuccino, which was served with most of the cocoa dissolved, which was welcome. It was reasonably strong and had a good aftertaste, but the foam could have been a bit richer.
After waiting another 30 minutes or so (thankfully I had not arranged to meet anyone after lunch, as we would have been super late), our food came.
My companion and I shared our meals, and the first one I tried was the Salmon Latke Stack. As a point of reference, Latke is a potato pancake made with grated potato, flour and eggs. I had the stack with the smoked salmon option, and it was served with poached eggs and garnished with some preserved onions. I enjoyed the eggs immensely, as they were done very well to keep the liquid yolk. As for the stack, the Latkes were an interesting variation on our usual hash browns, but I found them quite flour-y. The sour cream on top gave it quite a bit of creaminess and added an extra dimension to the taste too.
The other meal was the Jackson, which consisted of two eggs, a Merguez sausage, grilled mushroom, braised kale, bacon, sourdough toast and another piece of Latke. The eggs were also executed very well, with a slight crispy edge and a nice runny yolk. The Merguez Sausage (which is an Arabic beef and mutton sausage) was very strong in flavour and quite spicy for a breakfast. The sourdough was soft on the inside but crusty on the outside, which made it quite tasty with butter. I didnt enjoy the kale that much, because I prefer my greens to be crisp and crunchy, but my companion said that it made the meal very wholesome. He also enjoyed the mushroom very much and said it was well seasoned. What we found interesting though was the presence of bacon in a middle eastern themed breakfast where pork is not usually served.
Whilst I enjoyed my meal at Shouk, I considered the wait quite disappointing, and although it was a unique and interesting experience, it still doesn't top our favourite breakfast joint, Double Shot.
Service: 5/10 (very long wait times, although service was friendly)