Suddenly a new restaurant appeared on my horizon. Located on the corner of the Broadway Fair shopping centre, an area known to me in my slightly hazy student days, a place of kebabs, cheap Chinese and drinks at the now defunct tavern, was a very classy looking restaurant.
It had big windows, and classy chandeliers, and stylish black and white umbrellas in its small al fresco area. It was also open early in the day which meant one thing: breakfast.
I took my eldest daughter as a companion and when we walked in we immediately stood taller. A large, beautiful room, elegant yet comfortable, with an inviting communal table in the centre. It was full of people from the nearby uni, clearly enjoying their breakfast. A large padded banquette ran the length of the window, the dark walls offset by big brassy mirrors and burnt orange padded chairs. Books hung from the ceiling over the communal table. The open kitchen buzzed with activity.
Black and white images of iconic locations in Europe made us feel like we were enjoying our breakfast on the continent, although that could also have been the charming waiter's exotic accent or the funky Spanish tunes playing.
Service was prompt and very friendly. Sparkle in the eye friendly, which is very welcome on an otherwise unremarkable day. Also welcome was the chocolate which accompanied my coffee (and the other two we received upon paying the bill). Chapter 88 was quickly becoming my new favourite.
The breakfast menu is exciting. Yes, you can get eggs and bacon on toast (they even call it 'the usual') for $15.50 but why would you when you see the other things on offer?
Mushroom Mix ($17.50) is a large plate of pan-fried wild mushrooms, oven-baked baby onion with goats cheese and herb pesto on toasted sourdough. The Sweet Chapter ($17.50) is vanilla bean French brioche with mixed berry compote, ricotta, nougat crumble and maple syrup.
If your tastes are more savoury, you could opt for Mr Bean ($15.50) spiced tomato beans with cumin and coriander, natural yoghurt, soft poached eggs and toasted sourdough.
I chose the Big Green ($18.50) which came with the intriguing sounding gnocchi cake, caramelised slow roasted tomatoes, mushroom mix, spinach, asparagus and organic sourdough toast.
I'll be honest when I say my first emotion was panic that there was no butter for the toast, but I resisted the urge to ask for some. I'm so glad I didn't. The flavour in the mushrooms was more than enough for the toast, which was firm enough to stay intact under the weight of the topping but not so tough you couldn't chew it. Perfect. It was a genuinely delicious dish and the fact that it had the word 'green' in it, made me feel quite wholesome at the end.
My daughter chose the butterscotch banana bread ($16.50) with home-made banana bread, and a caramelised banana in a pot of warm, sticky butterscotch sauce and a welcome scoop of ice cream. It was everything it should be, including very generous. So much so, that after she ate as much as she could, and then I ate as much as I could, we still ended up with a takeaway container to bring home with us.
Chapter 88 have very generous serves, and based on the slightly below-average prices for the area, this makes it very good value.
The food is also top-notch, as it should be considering the chef Brett Benjamin was the head chef for Mosmans. Although it is still in its early days (it opened in November 2013), it feels like Chapter 88 has already hit its strides.
So new, it doesn't even have a website yet (it does have a Facebook Page though), Chapter 88 is open for breakfast and lunch every day except Sunday. Although not geared towards children (they don't have a kids menu) they are very accommodating and friendly. It's worth going out of your way for.