When it comes to breakfast, the standard bacon and eggs on toast no longer cuts the mustard. With the rise of social media and Adelaide’s ever-growing penchant for brunch, eateries across the city have been pushing the boundaries when it comes to their culinary concoctions.
A problem arises when this fixation on presentation comes at the cost of considered culinary decisions. This is where O’Connell Street’s newest addition, Coconut Estate Eatery, steps in. The debut café from Sithara Rajakaruna, Coconut Estate walks the line of gastronomic masterpieces, producing striking dishes without compromising on taste.
After moving to Adelaide from Sri Lanka to train as a chef, Sithara has worked in the kitchens behind some of the city’s favourite restaurants. Honing her skills at Spice Kitchen, Jamie Oliver’s and the now-closed Celsius, as well as a handful of local cafes along the way, Sithara’s creative streak eventually led her to a venture of her own.
“I’ve always had ideas in mind that I never got to play with,” she explains. “These are the things that I’ve always wanted to do…I always thought that one day I would open my own café or restaurant.”
Continuing in this creative vein, Sithara has kept the core menu relatively tight. She encourages rotating specials in an effort to instil perpetual creativity in her chefs.
The menu maintains an emphasis on what Sithara calls ‘glam food’, a departure from the Insta-food trend’s tendency to value aesthetics over technique and flavour. It’s here that a melding of her extensive culinary background and inherent innovative spirit thrives.
From locally hand-crafted coconut bowls to roti, yoghurt, milk and flakes, coconut features throughout in a nod to Sithara’s Sri Lankan roots.
While she remains humble, front-of-house manager, Blake Riley acknowledges his colleague’s ability. “It’s one thing to make food look pretty but it’s another to make it taste pretty,” he says.
“These are flavours you’re not really going to experience anywhere else, especially along this street,” he continues. “With things like using the roti instead of using rye bread, it’s something a bit different that tastes really good.”
Revamping the conventional eggs benedict, the Nourishing Goodness sees salmon, house-smoked with green tea and apple wood, atop a coconut roti. Paired with edamame beans, pickled ginger, nori and fresh herbs, and lathered in a striking beetroot hollandaise, the allure is only amplified by a dome swirling with liquid nitrogen.
For the sweet tooths, the Mermaid Majik Bowl is a stand-out. Its mesmerising bright blue hue is the result of spirulina powder mixed with coconut yoghurt. Topped with granola and seasonal fruits, the dish’s careful composition of flavours and textures is a testament to Sithara’s fine-dining background.
Unsurprisingly, the café’s unique offering is already drawing in crowds. When asked about the response so far, Sithara and Blake can’t help but chuckle. “It’s been overwhelming,” says Sithara.
Blake chimes in, “my phone doesn’t stop beeping”
WHERE? 5/11 O’Connell Street, North Adelaide
WHEN? Monday – Saturday: 07.00 – 16.00 / Sunday: 08.30 – 14.30
COME HERE FOR: An inventive brunch menu that tastes as good as it looks.
EXPECT TO SPEND: $-$$
OF NOTE: Evening service with a modified menu and Pina Coladas served in the signature coconut bowls coming soon.
Photography by Ben Neale