Friday, 11 March 2011

Shoebox Cafe

Thai beef pide (above)

Triangular sushi (above and below)

Smiling Sammi (above)

Huddle closer girls and boys, and let me tell you about another of those little gems of eating venues I have discovered.

It’s a fabulous little lunch place, called, appropriately, Shoebox Café, and it’s squeezed exactly in between Kuzina, and Tas Vac in Elizabeth Street. Luckily they have some tables and chairs out on the pavement so they don’t disappear into the streetscape completely!

They are open between 7 am and 5 pm, Monday to Fridays.

It is the brainchild of a gorgeous former-South Korean (now a self-proclaimed Tasmanian) art school graduate named Sammi, and her artistic leanings are obvious when you regard the array of sandwiches, pides, sushi and the like laid out in her display fridge. They appear as works of art, before you even make your selection! Sammi is ably abetted and assisted by the lovely Beth, a fellow art school graduate who has named herself the Sandwich Artist, which I love!

The cafe features food which combines Asian and Western flavours, high quality coffee and teas and a groovy fitout done by a local furniture designer, Nick Randall

The possible fillings you can have in your pide sandwiches include the following:
Vietnamese chicken $9.50
Peking duck $10.50
Korean style spicy chicken $9.50
Thai beef $9.50
Wasabi mayo leg ham $9.50
Teriyaki chicken $9.50
Turkey and cranberry $9
Leg ham $8
Total veggie $8

The novelty triangular shaped sushi comes in the following fabulous flavours:
Teriyaki chicken and cucumber $4
Soy beef and spring onion $4
Silk tofu and cream cheese $4
Smoked salmon and avocado $4.30

She also makes mini pide buns, with the following fillings:
Toasted pesto and brie $4.30
Smoked salmon and aioli $4.90
Ham and relish $4.50

Being a Thai Beef Salad afficionado, I predictably selected the Thai Beef pide, and let me tell you, it was stunning. Next time I will get them to leave it out of the pide and just give me the filling in a takeaway container. All the predominant flavours you would expect to find in a Thai Beef Salad were there. In fact it was so beautiful, that my daughter Bec, to whom I had dropped off the uneaten second half of it which I couldn’t tackle, phoned me to exclaim how fabulous it was! She’s pretty blasé about lunches, so when she takes time out of her busy work day to call me and rave about her lunch, it really is noteworthy!

I also had a refreshing pot of Myrtle Bush tea ($4.30) whilst at Shoebox, out of Sammi’s specially commissioned jade green teapots, lovingly made for her by local ceramicist Alex Gouldthorpe. The coffees average $3.80 for a cup, or $4.30 for a mug, and the coffee is Sammi’s own blend.

They also feature waffles made onsite (with whipped cream and icing sugar $6, or maple syrup, or berry coulis) and various sweet delights, like slices and banana cake ($4.30) and both savoury ($4.30) and sweet ($3.50) muffins.

Sammi is up, and in the café working hard, well before the opening time of 7 am in order that she can make everything herself, and the result is obvious when you taste anything there.

I found it extremely interesting to listen to Sammi and Beth whilst they spoke about their plans and ideals for the café, and what inspires them. I mentioned to them about two other females who instantly come to my mind, who were art school graduates, then went on to work in the hospitality industry, producing top notch and artistic-looking food, designed for both the eye and taste buds. One is Nina, who, I believe is now catering at Technopark, and who formerly had that tiny, weeny café on the Main Road, New Town/Argyle St intersection. The food she produced and served there was, like Sammi’s, visually spectacular, and SO tasty that I regularly drove from my workplace on the eastern shore to her tiny café in New Town for lunch.

The other person I thought of was Nicole Pappas, an ex-employee of mine at my café in the early 90’s, who was, at that time, at art school, but then went on to work for Chris Jackman at Mit Zitrone, making all his fabulous sweet after dinner dessert delights. She is a fabulous cook, and even now produces inspired food, even though most of it goes reasonably unappreciated by her two young sons!

These people are poster people for visually attractive food, and who treat food as an artwork, and have fun with it at the same time. I myself think it’s a form of creative expression for them, and cooking seems to go hand-in-hand with artistic expression for some.

Anyway – whatever the analysis is, it all comes down to the fact that Rita wholeheartedly endorses Shoebox Café, and urges everyone to pop in there and get some beautiful lunch next time you’re in town. The parking spots directly outside are always available so there’s no excuse NOT to stop and get your lunch!

Shoebox Café
211a Elizabeth St
Ph 6231 5994


Tassiegal said...

Being meaning to try Shoebox, but keep forgetting its there!

Anonymous said...

Did she (sammy) work at Pane Cucina before ?

Rita said...

Hi TG - long time, no hear! Glad you're still around. Yes, you
MUST get in there and try something.
Anon - I'm not sure if Sammi worked at Pane Cucina. Pop in and ask her.

Tassiegal said...

Been reading but not commenting. Thesis ate my brain until December, and its taken about 3 months to find some sort of equilibrium in limbo.

Victor said...

Sounds very good, Rita. A bit far from my workplace. Wish it is open on a weekend, so I can try it.

CatDog said...

Sounds like a great cafe. Are they jumbo biscuits on the counter?
This isn't directed at the shoebox cafe just a general rant, one thing that really grinds my gears is how trendy "sushi" has become, nori and rice + filling isn't sushi! But I suppose it's good to exploit stupid yuppies.

sir grumpy said...

What is sushi then, CatDog?
Not that I would touch raw fish, or raw beef, or even rare beef.
E Coli anyone?

Rita said...

Sir G - nothing in the sushi at Shoebox was uncooked (ie raw) except the cucumber!

reb said...

It looks good.

But do they have curry puffs?

CatDog said...

Sir G I'm not an authority on sushi, in my opinion is if it's going to be called sushi it should contain some form of seafood either cooked or raw or vegetables or egg, I think it's disrespectful to Asian culture to call it sushi, why does everything have to be ruined to satisfy unadventurous close minded westerners? People should learn to try things the way they were meant to be eaten chances are they will love it, if not then its just another experience after all isn't that what life is all about.
I wouldn't have a problem with it if there was at least one piece of authentic sushi or if it was called rice cakes with chicken or whatever.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Reb on this one.
How can we possibly compare all these places if they don't do curry puffs!

I hear Steve has been working in secret trying to perfect his version of them and Sapa Rose are going to bring them out at the end of the meal, about midnight I am told.
The Burger place is also about to launch its version topped with egg and chips.


Rita said...

I'm sure if you went in and asked her, Sammi would add curry puffs to her menu - just for you, Reb, and you too, P!

Anonymous said...

Rita Mark 4 is on the market - $150k + no good will - any one know why its on the market ? Has the top end gone bust ? or is it a case of to many places.

Cool room

Tassiegal said...

Cool Room. Interesting, as last I heard Mark 4 was going downmarket to become M4 and part of the T42 group.

Anonymous said...

Well it had already gone to M4 and it was always part of the T42 group but clearly the M4 part hasn't worked.


Anonymous said...

I was informed that the original M 4 was to be a informal place where the old classics were to be reinterpreted but it went off on another tangent alltogether with Foremans food. It was a surprise then to learn that when it was re-branded with a new chef that it seemed to revert back to type by offering similar food albeit with a heavy med focus.

Anonymous said...

Well its for sale now!
Great opportunity for somebody to create something fabulous! Can't complain about the location!


Anonymous said...

What a great place! Went there the other day and had korean spicy chicken pide following waffle with the lot and cooffe. Food was so yuum. The best salad roll I've ever had. The waffle was tasty as well. I've got coffee with a little heart- good to see latte art going on. Definitely go back soon!!

Andreater said... this little blog! Just discovered eat - and love the little Shoebox cafe - so neat and sweet! Nice strong coffee!

Allison said...

I had lunch at SHoebox today with my Dad. I had the spicy korean salad and he had the CHinese BBQ pork pide- they were both soooo delicious! Dad loves his coffee HOT and strong- the coffe at shoebox was both, he was extremely impressed! We will definately be going backa nd spreading the word!

Suka9999 said...

i am a semi-regular customer there. When i go there, i ALWAYS order the Pecking duck roll. it is *to-die-for*. Also, her dumpling soup is just perfect for a cold winter day.