Type of Venue: Cafe
Cuisine: Modern Australian brunch food
Highly Recommended: Crispy Southern Fried Chicken and Waffles, Nutella & Banana Bread and Butter Pudding (a weekly special), Banana Smoothie
In today’s social media obsessed society, Code 21 fits in perfectly. Brunswick’s newest local exudes a playful nature through their vibrant colours and relaxing ambience, from the decor to the food and drinks presented on the table. Only in its first month of business, the attention-grabbing attitude of this cafe is already gaining traction amongst keen brunch-goers.
Both indoor and outdoor seating is available, though the indoor area is not designed for a mass amount of people. Freshly made sandwiches and foccacia’s line the glass cabinet, alongside enticing muffins and sweet slices. An overall fresh and clean look fills Code 21, complemented by pops of natural greenery, and natural light streaming through the surrounding windows. Describing themselves as ‘Grandma chic‘, this is definitely a place in which younger and older generations can comfortably merge.
Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks are available, with Veneziano Coffee Roasted satisfying the caffeine fiends. Being predictable, I immediately hone in on the small range of house made smoothies, with my chosen flavour reading like a meal in itself with the amount of ingredients blended together.
The Banana Smoothie contains banana, peanut butter, dates, oats and soy milk, delivering an immensely enjoyable thick and creamy drink, that will certainly tingle those sweet-loving taste buds.
Banana Smoothie ($12.00)
Although potentially a little overwhelming with the mass listing of ingredients for the menu items, without a title given to each dish, careful consideration makes the reader realise the level of thought that has gone into the combination of various ingredients within a single dish, to create a plate of edible excitement when it comes to flavours and textures. The attention to detail applied to the presentation of the dishes is also highly commendable.
Serving as the ideal hangover cure or hearty meal, Crispy Southern Fried Chicken are served atop perfectly cooked waffles, balanced out by a crunchy chipotle slaw and cranberry BBQ sauce. House made and served inside a mini jar, the cranberry BBQ sauce delivers an impeccable balance of salty, sweet and umami flavours that seamlessly tie the whole dish together. The chicken remains tender inside its crispy coating, whilst the waffles remain crispy on the outside and moreishly fluffy on the inside.
Crispy Southern Fried Chicken Waffles ($18.90)
A relatively sedate dish compared to the previous one, avocado is prepared partly smashed and partly diced, spread atop a single piece of pumpkin toast, complete with a poached egg, Yarra Valley Persian feta, Nigella seeds, watercress salad and beetroot relish. All of these components were quite satisfactory, though the dish as a whole needed more to enhance its excitement and to become a memorable dish. The addition of bacon filled the stomach a little more, whilst the zing of the beetroot hummus provided an enjoyable contrast of flavour and texture.
Avocado Diced on Pumpkin Toast ($18.90)
+ Bacon ($4.50)
Rotating every couple of weeks, their specials menu is well worth a look. At the time of my visit, one dish in particular stood out. The Nutella and Banana Bread & Butter Pudding is probably more appropriate as a post-lunch dessert dish or afternoon treat, but it’s way more fun to eat as a mid-morning brunch! Sourdough bread sufficiently soaks up the pudding mixture to become soft and moist, enhanced by the gooeyness of Nutella and soft-cooked bananas detected between the layers. The addition of caramelised banana, pistachio nuts, strawberries and vanilla ice cream results in a sinfully decadent dish that will spark absolutely no regrets.
Nutella & Banana Bread & Butter Pudding ($14.50)
It is easy to become skeptical about venues with awe-inspiring aesthetics, as it begs the question as to whether the taste and enjoyment of eating the food lives up to the hype. I admit, my pre-conceived expectations of Code 21 supported this skepticism… how could such a perfectly plated dish taste as good as it looks?! Well, when it came to two of the three dishes we tasted, my skepticism vanished.
The main appeal of Code 21 is their made-for-Instagram artistry, all humbly enclosed inside a wooden weatherboard exterior overlooking busy Brunswick Road. The local ambience suits its surrounding apartment complex environment, whilst the food and drinks from this experience were thoroughly enjoyable, mostly living up to the hype. Potentially a cafe at which you need to order correctly to have the best experience.
Note: I dined as a guest of Code 21. Thank you to one of the co-owners, Huss, and his staff for their generous hospitality throughout our experience.
2/21 Brunswick Road
Brunswick, VIC 3057
Ph: (03) 8370 9078
Hours: Mon-Fri 6:30am-4pm, Sat-Sun 7:30am-4pm.