The inside of a shopping centre has never quite been the ideal location that comes to mind for a café. Yet, despite the inescapable limitations of its location, the long lines outside The Vogue Café on a weekend morning and tables of diners spilling out into the well-polished walkways of Macquarie Centre should be the first indicator that you’re dealing with something rather special.
There’s something of The Grounds in The Vogue Café’s décor, albeit with a more elegant and decidedly ‘French Industrial’ twist, according to owner Sarah; think an abundance of rustic, white paint, plants where possible, and green accents. On Saturday midday rush hour, the waiters were efficient and cheerfully professional in the face of a hungry line of guests. Their regular updates about our seating status made our 15min wait for seats pass by faster than expected.
The Vogue Café and its sister café, The Missing Piece, is the new incarnation of a brand that has boasted a 20 year history in the Macquarie area. Since Sarah and her brothers bought the café three years ago, their main focus has been on vastly expanding the drinks menu, and The Vogue Café has been on the indulgent milkshake trend for over two years – way ahead of any Canberra publicity, Sarah is quick to add.
For the lactose-intolerant, the Peach and Mango Frappe ($7) is a great alternative mason-jar drink, albeit slightly less ‘crazy’ in presentation, though no less beautiful. This was a refreshingly fruity, and not watery at all – in fact, the challenge was getting the drink through the straw. The dominant flavours of mango and peach naturally make this quite sweet, but there’s pineapple juice and berries on top to offset the sugar with some tang.
The Vogue Café boasts an all-day breakfast menu that does not exactly reinvent the wheel but is packed with reliable brunching basics. The Benny Dict ($15.50) features nicely poached eggs covered in homemade hollandaise and a fairly generous helping of spinach and mushrooms, with a slight kick of spices in the pepper. The mushrooms could have been seasoned a little more but the overall flavours work reliably well together.
The DIY Shake ($13) special gives you the job of deciding just what goes into your milkshake, offering you chocolate milk, a syringe of coffee syrup and a smorgasbord of salted caramel popcorn, Crunchie bits, Maltesers and even an overturned Cornetto to plonk into a chocolate-covered mason jar. It’s is certainly an entertaining, quirky set up, designed for making all your social media followers jealous, but I’d say it’s more of a gimmick as the chocolate and popcorn aren’t particularly improved when marinated in the milk. It’s also probably best to leave it to the experts to put the milkshake components together. To be fair, this may or may not have to do with how we emptied the entire needle of bitter coffee syrup into the mason jar without checking what it was. Don’t do that.
The Infamous Club Sandwich ($17.50) is definitely made for someone looking for a substantial meal, particularly because the dense ciabatta is going to give you a huge carb hit. It might be worth splitting this with a friend, especially if smoothies are going to be ordered. The chicken schnitzel remained fairly juicy but the bacon was slightly stringy for my tastes. The (cutely presented) wedges were double-fried in the way good wedges should be, beautifully crispy on the outside and fluffy inside.
There’s a reason why the Nutella Shake ($8) is one of the most popular smoothies on Vogue Café’s menu. Looking beyond the flair that’s gone into its presentation, it’s simply a good milkshake underneath it all. Thick, creamy and substantial, it’s very sweet but somehow manages to not be too overwhelming, balancing the main hit of hazelnut nuttiness with a hint of chocolate.
With a regularly rotating and changing repertoire of beautifully presented and quirky drinks, you’re going to want to come back – and perhaps at night because Sarah and her brothers are extending their passion for drinks into plans for a new cocktail bar, set to open in a few months also in the Macquarie area. If their café drinks are anything to go by, be prepared for something fantastical.
There are times when we need to stomp confidently over the ‘Daily Recommended Sugar Intake’ guidelines and throw caution to the wind. Vogue Café is just the place to do so, in style.
I Ate My Way Through dined as guests of The Vogue Cafe.