75 Ludstone St,
Mon – Sat: 7am – 4pm
Sun: 7am – 3pm
Coffee: The Mailing Room
“Being a hobbyist food blogger is fun, thrilling and for the most part creatively rewarding. Food bloggers don’t fit squarely in the realm of PR, hospitality or food journalism; but rather we all share creative freedom and champion establishments that we believe to be of high calibre. It’s also nice when you’re not ‘on the job’. There isn’t a worry about insufficient lighting or whether your tasting notes are sufficient to recall the dish’s key characteristics. Having visited Cornerstone & Co a year ago on recommendation from a mate and neglecting to bring my camera, I vowed to return soon to do a write-up. The experience was unique, pleasant and I struggled to identify a fault. This begs the question, though – will this visit match the last experience?
Cornerstone & Co is a smart cafe for a number of reasons. It’s smart that it had the confidence to set up shop in Hampton. Capitalising the corner location of an otherwise unknown local strip of shop creates the ‘diamond in the rough’ for foodies to discover. Its location is also a welcoming fresh air to the otherwise dominant Brighton bubble. The inside/outside dining flexibility is ideal for any occasion. A distinctive olive tree has been manipulated to become vertical creeper that is the centrepiece to the gorgeous patio area – perfect for summer brunches. Whilst the interior decor is a combination of slick polish wood features – resembling a distinctive ‘bee-like’ hexagon along the barista station – and rotating art pieces. Cornerstone & Co looks drives a clear message that it wants to be a serious brunch spot for Hampton.
The menu at Cornerstone & Co is inspired by the love of two strong foodies regions – Italy and Japan, not unnecessarily fused together but rather showcasing the best of the two cuisines. Embarking on a long black by The Mailing Room [$3.70], JoJo and I settled nicely on the patio to decide on our dishes. Just like many ‘modern’ brunch venues, the menu had a clear division of ‘health’ and ‘all day’ brunch dishes. The health side offered chia bowls, smashed avocado and a Japanese Marco Set – an interesting combination of ancient grains, shirataki glass noodles, avocado and shiitake mushrooms.
I was more interested in what Cornerstone & Co considers the intersection of brunch and Japanese cuisine, selecting Negiyaki – leek and spring onions vegetable pancakes, bacon, poached egg, herb salad, mayonnaise, okonomi sauce & katsuobushi shavings [$17]. While most of us have had the ‘Japanese pancake’ the brunch interpretation was more of a fritter-like mixture topped with a poached egg – all with a touch of Japanese flavours. A little underwhelming in comparison to my Italian inspired dish from my last visit, but it did stay authentic to taste and didn’t deviate from the brunch theme.
JoJo went for the healthy option, Tapioca Chia Bowl – apple soaked tapioca, mixed chia seeds, kiwi, mango coulis & mulberry [$15]. As with all chia bowls, it was beautifully plated and was the envy of onlookers… but can be deceiving and this case, JoJo felt mislead. She enjoyed the citrus flavours present in the dish, but to achieve the right balance required the ingredients to be folded in throughout the dish. Lack of doing so left the chia bowl a little tasteless without its toppings. That said, she did love the mango coulis & mulberry toppings, reminding her of strong summer flavors.
Cornerstone & Co is a cafe that I admire for its individuality and confidence. Since its inception, the menu has had a clear vision of being both Italian and Japanese focused. In my view the Italian options are stronger and more refined, but overall the decor and strong coffee offering means Brighton has some hot competition just around the corner.”
Final thought: “Hampton’s diamond brunch in the rough”