Go West… Plant 13. 18 Park Terrace, Bowden, Adelaide, SA

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As the Village People said…. “Go West”…. And it seems I have followed that popular instruction well of late across a number of great breakfast venues just west of the city. So far so good, so happy to keep coming!

This time another one that I have had a lot of people suggest to me. Plant 13. It is an historic site where from over a century ago workers of the old Clipsal company would gather for a drink and due to superstition there was never a plant 13 (only 1-12 & 14-18) so this meeting site nearby became aptly known as that. Cute story!

The owner’s offering includes locally sought produce, with some very close to home… vegetables grown out the back, smallgoods produced in-house and bread baked onsite too.

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On my arrival I can see it is bustling already with the car park full but street parking still available. Heading in we nab the last non-booked table – so they do take bookings which is rare, but handy. Design follows the industrial vintage modern theme which works well with the Bowden development surrounding every part of this venue. It has a ’nice’ ambiance but lacks a little bit of warmth and character in my opinion. There is a cute outside area which is pleasant, although you are just looking at temporary fencing and development, I wouldn’t call it scenic at any stretch.

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The menu is really interesting covering brunch/lunch items; made up of lots of combinations beyond ‘standard brekky’ which is great to see and makes choosing hard. It does seem to have a North American influence across pancakes with maple syrup & bacon, buttermilk biscuits with eggs & bacon and even spare ribs. The ones that catch my eye are baked eggs, triple cheese toasted sandwich with jalapenos & pork buns, what to choose?! The prices are really reasonable from just $10 to $20 for the “full brekky” which I see coming out and is a feast (hash browns look amazing) but too much volume for me this morning. The other bonus (for some) is they have a comprehensive kids menu which is great for anyone with little tackers.

We opt for the baked eggs with tomato, mushroom, bacon and sourdough and the buttermilk biscuits filled with smoked bacon, relish and egg (a favourite of my dining partner from her latest Canadian trip) along with an iced chocolate and cloudy apple juice.

Drinks are out in reasonable time and well well well – another serve in a jar… not sure about this anymore! Move on people please. Everything tastes good. Belgium iced chocolate especially – yum. I do notice later, juices coming out better garnished with fruit on the side. A problem with consistency in presentation it seems and all the staff did see me taking plenty of photos before we ordered – blogger blind maybe?

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All the food coming out does look magnificent though, which only teases us on how long we are waiting for our food. The onion rings going past look really good and we cheekily add this to our order late which they happily tack on for us.

Once it all finally arrives it looks pretty specky and I am excited. We dig in and then in sycronisation both look up at each other not as excited by the taste as our eyes were on arrival, but keep going in the hope it will improve. My baked eggs aren’t that great and unfortunately don’t get any better… the eggs are overcooked to the point where the whole top layer is hard and rubbery and only the below surface portion really edible (if you like hard eggs that is). I rummage through for some bacon and find some only to then realize it is basically a huge chunk of fat. Search some more and find a piece half fat and half meat – my groomed of fat mouthful tastes great, the smokiness is really dominant and it is delicious. The few other pieces in the dish are also predominantly gristle and put me off continuing – and I LOVE bacon. The tomato ‘sea’ around everything is tasty though and ends up being a great dip for my yummy, but jaw breakingly crunchy, bread and so I end up with a tomato toast breakfast really.

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My friend’s biscuit with eggs and bacon looks good. Bacon a little leaner thankfully and really nice flavor (again the smokiness is the trademark), egg cooked a little too much maybe but passable, however the biscuit (arguably the proposed hero of the dish) is so dry. One side is good covered in relish which desperately draws in as much moisture as it can to be edible but the top gets left as it is not appetising on its own.

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The winner is the late call onion rings, greasy but divine and the dipping sauce is yummo! We’re both glad for the tummy saving addition that at least hit some of the spot left wanting.

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So with plates not empty we call a finish to our breakfast and try to find the positives. The menu does look great as a compilation, it isn’t overly expensive, the staff were friendly, there was table service and there is a buzz across a full café in this cool area. The negatives, it took too long to come out and plain and simple it didn’t deliver as it should have. You almost feel a little more cheated because it looked so much better than it actually tasted too.

So, the west has hit a hurdle it seems. A pity. I would still be interested to come back and give a ‘standard’ breakfast of bacon and eggs a go or a pork bun for lunch sometime. However I think they need to step it up if they want to compete with their neighbours like Loose Caboose or Queen Street Café as they cream this place in both food AND atmosphere currently. Word on the street is that people are having either a great or very average time at Plant 13 which isn’t a good sign. The best places out there are consistently good which these guys will need to find if they want to play with the big boys, especially out this way. I really hope they do as they have the signs that they could be great, it just needs a bit more attention.

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Plant 13
18 Park Terrace, Bowden, Adelaide, South Australia

Food: 6/10
Service: 7/10
Vibe: 7/10
Cost: $+

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