Not much has changed inside which is good, because it is a cute and quirky space with mismatched old chairs, a wall of posters, bright cushions in the window, unusual light fittings and a relaxed, vintage vibe. It's cool without trying too hard, and by the looks of the locals who wandered in on a wet wintry morning for their Sunday brunch, still popular despite (or because of) recent changes.
I had already visited JJ Kings with a large group for their tapas and wine evening, a new initiative now that opening hours have extended into the evenings (Wednesday through to Saturday).
Moving into wine bar territory is a relatively new endeavour for JJ Kings and admittedly there were some teething problems for our large group, but the restaurant had been quite busy with happy diners so I wanted to give JJs another go.
So it was a totally dodgy morning that I arrived with my youngest daughter for breakfast, my favourite meal of the day. The weather prevented us from eating outside, but we were happy sitting in the front window watching the rain. I was initially confused about the service – but once I realised you had to collect your own menu and order at the register (no table service) – things went smoothly.
The daily menu consists of an all-day breakfast plus more lunch-style meals in addition to the various muffins, cakes, rolls and wraps that adorn the counter. If you're a fan of big, fat muffins then you won't be disappointed and other offerings included gluten-free orange cake and chocolate croissants which would make JJs a perfect place for morning tea. Its 3.30pm closing time early in the week means you still have a few minutes to grab a quick cake and coffee after school pick-up.
More traditional breakfast offerings include Bircher muesli ($12.90) and the full breakfast with bacon, eggs, sausages, beans, hashbrowns, tomatoes and mushrooms on sourdough ($24.90). The eggs are free range and there are a number of gluten-free and vegetarian options on the menu.
Slow cooked pork belly, poached eggs and pineapple salad... for breakfast?
I wanted to try to the very-unbreakfast-like 'pork belly for breakfast?' advertised as slow roasted pork belly, soft poached eggs, pineapple on salad greens ($21.90). It was really unusual, and probably even pushed me to my limits. The pork belly was soft and a generous size, although not all the fat had been cooked out. The eggs were fine and although they are a natural fit with pork, it was difficult to use kale leaves to soak up the gooey yolk. I found the pineapple to be too tart; although it was cooked, possibly caramelised, it was not at all overly sweet as I had expected (and hoped, as I am a sweet tooth). The salad greens were perky and fresh, and I admitted defeat. Maybe I am more of a breakfast traditionalist than I realised.
My little girl really enjoyed the strawberry milkshake, which came rather cleverly in a very cool mason jar with a lid, so when she dropped it on the floor – as three year olds are wont to do – it hardly spilled at all. The rather expensive fruit toast ($7.50) was too grown up for her (it was full of nuts and dried fruit) and I was more than happy to finish it for her. Next time, I will get her the pancake stack ($13.90).
Other interesting options on the all day menu included chicken smӧrgás, sliced chicken with avocado, egg, homemade remoulade and a side of Swedish beetroot relish ($17.90), home made sausage rolls with tomato relish and salad ($14.90) and the JJs steak sandwich with chips ($19.90). The menu isn't as small as it initially seems and you can find everything from traditional breakfast, healthy lunches, exotic meals and hearty tucker.
The dinner menu is more focussed with a strong Italian influence. Here you can find starters such as arancini balls ($9.90), salt and pepper calamari ($11.90), baked scallops with fresh tomato and basil ($13.90) and buffalo mozzarella salad ($13.90).