95 Whitehorse Road
Balwyn VIC 3103
+61 3 9816 8911
The Box Hill-Doncaster corridor is not normally where you’d find a decent café so when Jason Jones of Porgie and Mrs Jones fame decides to set up a café in Balwyn, a stone’s throw from Box Hill, he was onto something. Snow Pony, his second café, nestles comfortably on Whitehorse Road yet far away from the hustle and bustle of the Balwyn Maccas-library-restaurants part of the same road. Still, the fact that Snow Pony is out of the way does not detract happy brunchers from rocking up to pretty much the only cool café for miles (correct me if I’m wrong, guys) and queuing up for a table.
When Adam and I went, the wait was 10 minutes which is nothing when it comes to hot brunch spots in Melbourne when you think about it. But when you’re sitting there in the freezing cold for that long, every second feels like forever, especially if all you have to keep you company is one grumpy Adam and Hendo’s battered copy of Kiyosaki and Lechter’s ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ which had been in Adam’s possession for four years.
When we got our tables (in the courtyard, which would have been perfect had the weather been sunny), we were quickly given water and asked if we would like coffees. Literally two minutes later, my latte was placed in front of me and Adam received his long macchiato. We were impressed; here we were, in the middle of a roaring Sunday afternoon trade and everything was coming out quick. Damn! This is going to be a fantastic meal, we thought. Wrong, wrong, wrong like Nicole Kidman’s Dior Oscars gown. WRONG!
My latte, brewed from Allpress beans, was alright. The problem? They used skinny milk instead of the ‘normal stuff.’ Okay, so I didn’t specifically order a “latte with the fatty full-cream milk, please!” but when one says “a latte, please” they’re implying that they want a ‘normal’ latte and you should only use skinny milk when they specifically ask for it, e.g. “a skinny latte, please!”
I know a lot of people wouldn’t find it a big deal but it’s the principle more than anything. Adam knows for a fact that a lot of baristas sadly chuck in skinny milk because they assume that 1) that’s what customers want anyway and 2) people wouldn’t tell the difference between skinny milk and normal milk. The problem with this? 1) No, customers do not always want skinny milk – in fact, some people find the taste too watery and 2) Yes, some people CAN ACTUALLY TASTE THE DIFFERENCE. Oh well, at least I can give them props for presentation.
We may have been impressed with our coffees coming out at the speed of light but thirty minutes had gone past and there was no sign of our food. We guessed that the reason why our coffees came quick was to detract us from the slowness of the food. Both Adam and I had finished our coffees long before which is a massive accomplishment for me, in particular, because I’m someone who takes FOREVER to consume things.
Finally, our food came. Just under 40 minutes. Okay, I understand. It was Sunday and this is supposedly the only GOOD café (well, if you’re going by the ‘featured in Cheap Eats’ definition of ‘good’ anyway) within 10 billion miles so I should be lenient. But still.
I ordered the Giddy Up ($18.90). I’m currently going through a ‘healthy breakfast’ phase and hey, any dish which contains eggs (poached, please), avocado, thyme mushroom, tomatoes and a bit of bacon sounds good to me! Oh, there was crunchy organic sourdough from Noisette in the mix too but that went untouched. Look, it was alright – and even without the bread, it certainly filled me up right up until dinner – but taste-wise, it didn’t blow me away or anything. Hell, it didn’t even cause a gentle breeze. A far cry from the delicious breakfast that Shirley and I enjoyed at Snow Pony’s younger and cooler sister, Friends of Mine.
I do love gooey eggs though. Even if they’re a tad runny.
Adam was attracted to the sound of the steak sandwich. According to the menu, it was a ‘Hopkins River eye fillet steak sandwich, [with] with beetroot + blood orange relish, caramel[ised] onions, bacon, roast tomato, aged Maffra farmhouse chedder + a poached googie egg.’ Damn, the menu writer should really be a copywriter for Sterling Cooper or something like that because that sure sucked us in!
Moo. The steak wasn’t rare like the one we enjoyed at Coin Laundry (seriously guys, best. steak. sandwich. ever.) but at least it wasn’t rock-hard like the steak sandwiches I’m used to getting at fish and chip shops. I guess that’s some sort of consolation though, for the steak sandwich was just okay. Like my breakfast, it filled Adam up but taste-wise, he thought it was a little on the bland side. A shame, because it did look so good!
We had a 25% off voucher from the Entertainment book so we only got to pay $35.85 instead of $47.80. Look, I really wanted to like this place as I love what Jason Jones does, but I really expected more going by my experience at Friends of Mine. On the other hand, the only-okay food could be due to bad ordering on our part (and my stupid no-grain eating plan which prevented me from ordering 95% of the items off the menu, including the delicious-looking McPony ham, cheese and egg muffins). If I had not been to Friends of Mine prior to coming to Snow Pony and was unaware of what Jason Jones was capable of, I would have written Snow Pony off completely and told people not to bother. I do, however, am going to attribute our ‘bleh’ experience to bad ordering and a staff or two being too hungover to rock up to work. While I’m not going to return in a hurry, I won’t be sending it straight to the glue factory just yet (Mr Jones, you’ve just dodged a bullet).