Friday, May 04, 2007


150 Alexandra Ave South Yarra. tel 03 9827 0488

While I'm on the theme of visiting weird buildings converted into cafe's, I thought I'd give Kanteen a visit for breakfast. Kanteen is apparently a converted toilet / change block, down by the yarra in South Yarra. It's in a great spot, and the building itself looks amazing, but unfortunately, that's about all the positive things I can say about this place.
Rach and I arrived at about 11:30 on a Saturday morning and the place was busy, inside and out, despite the European Wasps buzzing around the outside tables.
When we walked in through the front door, we asked for a table for 2. Firstly, the girl told us that she couldn't help us and that we would have to wait for the 'person who seats people.' When 'that' person appeared, we again asked for a table for 2. "Well, there's a table outside with one seat there, go and get that and I'll go and get you another seat" so we went outside and Rach sat down, while I stood there for 10 minutes waiting for my seat to arrive. It didn't, so I went inside and found my own seat and took it out to our table. After about another 15 minutes, we still hadn't even received menu's, so I went inside and asked for some. Once we had decided what we wanted, we waited another 10 minutes for someone to come and take our order. When the very young waiter arrived we gave him our order and I enquired about which T2 teas were on offer, he replied "I can't remember, there's a few." He didn't even offer the names of maybe one or two of them. Funnily enough, I thought it would be his job to remember what tea there was for sale. I asked for peppermint tea and he actually had to go and check to see if that was available!
After, honestly about 20 more minutes of waiting, I saw someone walk out with what looked like our order, wander around aimlessly for a couple of minutes, then wander back inside. Another 5 minutes passed and then our original waiter came back with those same two plates and said "is this your's?"
I asked, "well what is it?"
Sure enough it was our food that had been out of the kitchen for probably almost 10 minutes by now. The waiter said, "sorry, we wasn't sure where it was supposed to go." He was the one that took our order!!
Sure enough our food was almost cold, but there was no point sending it back, we didn't have the rest of the afternoon to waste waiting around for food.
Rach ordered the Poached Eggs on Rye Melts with ham, cheese and tomato. They were certainly very pretty eggs, with huge pieces of chives to garnish and sprinkled with black pepper. The eggs though were overcooked. The yolks had no runnyness left in them, this was probably due to sitting under the pass' heat lamps for too long and continued to cook. (see photo)
I ordered the Spanish Eggs , oven baked with Spanish Goat's Cheese, Chorizo, Napoli, Basil and Pamesan on Pide. This dish was the epitome of being overcooked. The Parmesan on top was dark, hard and dried out. The inside wasn't much better, the eggs were WAY over cooked. So overcooked they were crumbly, (you can see this in the photo). My peppermint tea would have helped me swallow this dried out meal, but our drinks didn't arrive until we had almost finished eating!
This place has so many problems going on, that it's just not funny. Most of the staff seem inexperienced or just don't care. However there was one girl, with a slightly hippy appearence and piercings that was amazing, unfortunately she wasn't our waitress, but she was doing everyone else's work for them, while they wandered around aimlessly. I wanted to go up and give her a pat on the back. The management here need to either hire more staff like this, or they just need to hire more staff. The staff there at the moment cannot handle the pace at all.
The kitchen staff need to pay more attention to what they are sending over the pass and how long it sits there before it goes out. You can put as many fancy things like Spanish Eggs, or Black Sticky Rice on the menu, as you like, but when it comes down to it, it's the quality of the food and service that matters.
For some reason though, as bad as the service and the food was, this place was busy. Mostly with yummy mummies from Chapel st and other cool types. I guess that means that Kanteen is a place to be seen, rather than to go to if you want a nice breakfast.
Nice view. I want my money back!!


Cindy said...

Wow, what bad service! I hate waiting for breakfast the most, 'cause I'm guaranteed to be wilting with hunger.

The Gourmand said...

Thanks for the warning!
The place certainly looks nice but sounds like it left you really let down and unsatisfied.

As for the "Spanish" eggs, the cooks need to study geography. I didn't know that Napels and Parma were regions in Spain....

Adski said...

Hi Gourmand, you're right about the spanish ingredients. I think because it had chorizo in it, they felt they could call it 'spanish'.

Cindy, we were more than wilting with hunger, by the time we got our meals. We were very unhappy customers. Truly my worst breakfast experience, even worse than Bills!

cin said...

Such a pity because it's a lovely spot to sit. SErvice must have seriously gone downhill since they've become so much more popular.

Adski said...

Cin, yeh, it's a shame, because there's so much potential there - it just goes to show what happens when you hire the wrong people and not enough of the right people. You can have a great place, but without the right people to run it, it's nothing.

Andrew said...

I cycled past it yesterday and it was very busy. Either you had a bad day, or the news hasn't gotten around. At the time, I was impressed it could attract such a crowd since it basically couldn't be getting any foot traffic.

I was planning to go there and check it out, but now I'm wondering...

Adski said...

hey andrew,
admittedly, I have heard some people say they got some good food there and apparently the coffee is good too. I think it's more about location than anything else though. I hope the service is better most of the time than the day we went, because my dog knows how to fetch me my slippers better than they could serve a cup of tea that day.