Cornerstone & Co. in suburban Hampton had only been operating for six weeks at the time of my visit but it's clear by the regular stream of patrons that this bright and welcoming café has already established a loyal following.
Cornerstone and Co. Hampton
The café furniture has all been designed by one of the owners through her company, spacetocreate.co and features bold zinc and powder coated chairs and light fittings as well as recycled Victorian ash tables and hexagonal shelves.
For parents with prams or people who prefer al fresco dining there is a courtyard at the rear of the building overlooking a park.
The lunch menu is tasty and innovative and the serves are generous. The smoked cod salad with potato and Spanish onion with a tomato and olive tapenade is obviously a hit because it ran out before I had a chance to order it. However, the quinoa salad with grilled chicken was a good choice, with pumpkin, spinach, green snake beans and a lovely hint of sweetness provided by the caramelised red onion, sultanas and mint.
Quinoa Salad, Cornerstone & Co.
The veal cotoletta, an Italian version of the Wiener schnitzel, consisted of two pan fried veal steaks covered in Japanese breadcrumbs and accompanied by a Sicilian coleslaw salad of finely sliced savoy and red cabbage with a simple olive oil and lemon juice dressing.
Veal Cotoletta, Cornerstone & Co.
As the chef is Japanese, the Japanese aesthetic is noticeable here in the colour and arrangement of the individual ingredients on the embossed plates and in the choice of dishes. The Japanese brunch set was a stunning tableau of wasabi-seared salmon fillet, a hard-boiled egg filled with creamy mustard mayonnaise, marinated red cabbage, avocado with nori jam and a five-grain rice mix and miso soup.
Japanese Brunch Set, Cornerstone & Co.
I finished off my lunch with a cappuccino and a large, just-baked amaretto biscuit which had a lovely spongy almond texture. The cakes are all freshly made in house and vary according to the chef's whim and may include limoncello tarts, peanut butter chocolate brownies, rum baba, carrot and walnut cupcakes and bomboloni with vanilla cream.