Sun – Sat: 7:30am-5pm
Coffee: Coffee Supreme
“Warehouse - [wârhous] noun or verb - A large building where raw materials or manufactured goods may be stored before they are exported or distributed.
A warehouse is a barren land of boxes, shelves and products. It’s certainly not an appealing piece of architecture. However, if you take an abandoned inner-city warehouse situated in a hipster suburb, the ugliness provides a golden opportunity. The demand for an industrial space with potential for restaurant conversion is extremely high. SoJo is yet another cafe operating in a converted warehouse. Whilst you might think ‘argh, not another one!’, this space has a lovely ambiance that goes beyond the typical cafe standard.
As you enter SoJo, you get the sense that no corners were cut in its design. Walking through the dark, narrow hallway we were greeted by friendly staff who quickly got our names down, offering us a bar seat to order our coffees. The interior design and functional aspects have been perfectly executed with plenty of seating, well-placed lighting, unique décor and plenty of art work to gaze at. This attention to service and detail gave me a sense that SoJo was more like a cool restaurant than a café. I personally viewed SoJo as a well-execute hybrid that results in a very unique and very hipster vibe.
I really enjoyed the little touches, such as being able to have brunch on the bar table, having a lounge section to cater for the brunch rush and quirky diagrams depicting where SoJo gets it produce from in the bathroom.
Being a Sunday, coffee is a required sustenance for me to gain some necessary vision for the day. We noticed that their coffee was sourced from Coffee Supreme, who have always tailored their bean selection and roasting method towards a market that enjoys a bitter tasting coffee. My long black [$3.50] was smoother than usual and had a nice nutty after tone. I felt it struck the right balance for those who enjoy the bitterness with a smoother-than-usual texture.
French toast originated as a poor mans food (most noted by the Germans as ‘poor knight’) as a means of using stale bread. Whilst not being in a poor situation, SoJo‘s version – French Toast made with organic brioche topped with blueberry compote, mascarpone and toasted flake almonds [$16.90] had certainly caught my eye. When it had arrived with Canadian maple syrup, it looked heavenly.
The first striking element of this dish was the use of the brioche bread. It was an absolute winner, with its lovely glossy crust that had the right balance of sugar. It perfectly complemented the compote and mascarpone. The berry compote wasn’t as runny as I would have expected. The focus was more on the berries, creating the right fruity texture when combined with the vanilla-flavoured mascarpone. The only let down was that the brioche bread became completely soggy with the compote. Overall, however, the flavours complemented each other to deliver a fantastic and sweet-flavoured French toast.
SoJo is a warehouse cafe that is decked out appropriately and functions like a restaurant with a casual cafe vibe providing plenty of brunch options. Brunching at SoJo will have you fully covered, whether being a weekday or weekend.”
“About one year ago, Mr LB and I sat down together with a very serious expression on our faces,
“We need to sort this out. We need to work out where we’re blogging for the year and what’s on our hitlist.”
With focus in our eyes, we trawled the internet and created a list of places we wanted to go to. Mr LB had suggested SoJo (“or Soho, or something like that”) and it had immediately come to the top of our list… except for the fact that we couldn’t find anything about it online! Not knowing the name or location made it particularly difficult to track down and as the year went on it stayed in the back of our minds.
In February, Mr LB and I took to separate living arrangements, both on the North side of town (queue celebration cheer for increased blog reviews on the North side!). As we were moving all our furniture we noticed a little cafe with wooden crates out the front and a long, narrow hallway. The sign was black on black and I had to squint to see the name. It was SoJo, or as it was properly known, South of Johnston. CLEVER! Having tacked down this cafe we made it our mission to try it out and we were there to review it within the week.
When we arrived we managed to get a park straight away near the entrance of the venue. There were hipsters milling about, slightly obstructed by the fruit trees growing out the front. Entering through what was once a valve-repackaging factory, I couldn’t help but admire the very dark wooden paneling in the hallway.
Walking into the main dining area I was immediately impressed with the interior, developed by Carver Design. It was much larger than I expected and the reality of the cafes past was well-hidden by the white paint-job over the banisters and ceiling. There is seating to the left, backed by mountains of artwork that transported me to a seaside cafe I’d been to once. In the back of the cafe, there is a chill out zone for parents and those looking for a much less formal dining experience could take respite in modern chairs and sofas.
We took a seat at the bar while we waited for a table to be allocated to us. Before we even had a chance to order we were seated appropriately. By this point I’d decided on the Chorizo Eggs poached and served on a chorizo sausage, kalamata olive and napoli ragou with hollandaise, basil and sourdough [$17.90] and a double espresso [$3.50] to start my day. A good coffee is usually determined by a good barista, and in this case, they managed to make my espresso sing.
When my main came out I was intrigued. Hollandaise and chorizo is not a typical combination. The poached eggs were beautifully cooked – they were perfectly gooey on the inside, oozing all over the ragou and the chorizo. The hollandaise was less zingy and more creamy – a little bit boring on its own but it appropriately balanced the meal when combined with the other ingredients.
The chorizo itself was… how should I put it? Pretty damn sexy. It was rich, smokey and spicy – beautiful when mixed with the sauteed onions and olives in the sauce. My only complaint for the whole meal would be the sourdough used. The bread was too thin and absorbent, becoming soggy and slimy on the palate from the ragou. Switching to something like Noisette or Zeally Bay Sourdough would really complete this dish.
Overall I really enjoyed South of Johnston. The staff were very professional and relaxed, and the cafe itself provided good food and coffee. A job well done to the team! “
Final thought: “Family-friendly with a relaxed atmosphere”