I might be a gambler, but that is no reason to go against the odds. There is not enough time to make bad decisions so I’m careful where I venture. Unlike horse racing, even a superficial amount of research reveals cafes to visit, and cafes to steer clear of. Naturally a food lover doesn’t go out of their way to have a bad experience, and a gambler doesn’t go out of their way to lose.
When Catherine and I go and have a new experience, we generally have some idea on what to expect. Personally I don’t like looking at menus, or reading any reviews before I first try a place, but I am mindful of what I hear from friends and several forms of media. The exception is when we try somewhere that is completely new, and only has the reputation of the owners and main staff behind it, or not even that.
I walked past the old Olmecs on Bridge Road while it was being renovated and one aspect caught my eye “Axil Coffee Roasters”. That is the deadset promise of great coffee, and a likely top quality cafe. I noted it down and made it a must try once it opened.
Mayday opened a month later and had a following from day one. We were pleased on our first attempt to visit that we got told food had stopped being served on account of the hour wait (it was early afternoon). It is much better to be honest than disappoint. A week later we came a bit earlier and after a slightly odd welcoming by the floor manager we were seated after a short wait.
The menu has several enticing options as we expected. A couple in particular jumped out to us and we decided to share something indulgent (Croque Madame) and something sounding relatively healthy (Heirloom Beetroot Salad). There is a certain settling in period that a cafe must be afforded so with friendly staff making an obvious effort I’ll say the service was even.
The food was excellent. The croque madame is one of those meals that given its components is always some level of good. Here the smoked ham hock, generous amount of raclette cheese, mustard béchamel sauce, and runny fried egg, have that extra level of quality that balances the guilt. The bright, extremely photogenic ingredients in the heirloom beetroot salad, put that balance in our favour. There is a bit of texture from the quinoa, and the orange provides a burst, but there is not quite enough in the dish to add to each bite.
The coffee is very good as I expected and I tried a couple to be sure! Catherine tried the orange juice which at the time (I hope this has changed) was under “house made”. When she thought to herself that it doesn’t taste freshly squeezed she looked over to the counter looking for the juicer only to see that it comes straight from a Nudie bottle. I can understand teething issues having worked in some cafes and restaurants literally on opening day, but the manager couldn’t have been serious when she said “it is freshly squeezed by our supplier”, adding “this will change”. That’s fine, but maybe don’t charge $6 for it and put it under house made? I had already paid when I enquired (I wasn’t after a freebie) but there was no apology or even a joke. Luckily her attitude did not extend to her staff.
This is a really contemporary looking (read Scandi themed!) cafe doing excellent coffee and great food. In a matter of a couple of years this part of Bridge Road has blossomed. Mayday adds to the collection of great places for breakfast and lunch but it is not close to the best of them yet.