In a bid to resist unnecessary purchases on Boxing Day, we ventured to Richmond instead to have unnecessary fancy brunch. I’ve heard lots of raving about Top Paddock yet I’ve always been dubious about visiting due to reviews talking about lack of service. But you never know unless you try, and service was not what disappointed me.
Upon arrival, it was a good sign to see the place packed even on Boxing Day. It was quite large though, so we were seated easily but I hear that weekends have a bit of a wait time. I also enjoyed the homely and floral decor, the openness of the space making it feel akin to a greenhouse. The coffee section (above) was interestingly placed in the middle of the dining area and was separate to the register to pay for meals.
We were seated right next to the coffee section, whilst this pretty, glowing view (above) greeted us on our other side. The service was swift, after being seated immediately it wasn’t long until our drinks orders were taken. One friend and I got iced coffees ($6, below). I found the ice cream tasted nice, more flavoursome than your regular vanilla scoop, yet the actual coffee a tad bland and diluted.
For my meal, I was temped by everything from their big breakfast and pork belly dishes to the more experimental, “I don’t even know what that is but it sounds interesting” dishes. I gave in to the latter, having seen so many posts about this place’s interesting and successful dishes that I felt like I could not miss out.
I chose the purple potato and buffalo ash brie omelette with padron peppers on sourdough, with added chorizo ($3), so it came to $20. The purple potato was not sweet potato as we assumed, but it seemed potato coloured purple. Meanwhile, we discovered the ash brie to be a type of cheese similar to goat’s cheese, which was what they used in the omelette previously.
I really wanted to like it, but I felt the potatoes placed on top for aesthetics did not work that well compared to say, Spanish omelettes where the potato is found inside. The chorizo was too salty, so in addition to the ash brie, the entire dish was too salty for my liking. Nevertheless, it wasn’t horrible and being hungry, I finished the meal.
My friend chose the ricotta hotcakes with seasonal fruits, which included berries and strawberries, and marscapone ($17). It was nice, sweet and fluffy, or as she put it, like eating a giant muffin.
After hearing about the soft shell crab burger ($21), my friend ordered this as she really enjoyed the one at Hammer and Tong. It was good and buttery but we felt the one at Hammer and Tong to be richer and tastier with more mayonnaise. It was also cheaper at $16, although a little smaller than this one. However one of my other friends present had a different experience at H&T, saying that the burger there was so salty she could hardly taste the crab, which just goes to show how different people’s experiences can be.
Sometimes I wonder whether some places disappoint me because I’ve visited on a public holiday, when premium staff members may be on break, or because I come with too high expectations from the hype. It wasn’t as great as I expected and I probably won’t be back.
The decor was pretty and inventive, I especially enjoyed the street sign chairs (above), which are quite representative of signs in the inner suburbs. The teacup lights reminded me of the ones at Three Bags Full and then I realised Top Paddock is brought to us by the same (original) owners of Three Bags Full.
The service as mentioned earlier was attentive and not at all slow, but I wouldn’t promise this on the weekends. However one waiter did clear my friend’s drink without asking her if she was done, and she had a bit left.
Lots of people have had more positive experiences but unfortunately not me. I was glad we managed to try it when it wasn’t during peak hour on the weekends, yet I thought this would mean more time and attention for our food. The food came out quickly and all at once, but the tastes unfortunately did not satisfy.