A Sunday brunch with Marmite, Midnight Oil, Ms Grey, Madam Rabbit and I at Chapels on Whatley, a quaint and somewhat oddball cafe in the curious suburb of Maylands.
Chapels describes itself on its website as the sum of three separate components:
- a retail store for 'Chapels Fine Teas';
- the Chapels Cafe; and
- an Antiques and Artifacts Emporium.
I'm staggered to realise this only now, but we limited ourselves to the Cafe and did not check out the Emporium. Who am I and where did my life go wrong?
- Chinese Spiced Pulled Pork and Beans: Ms. Grey got things kicked off with this whimsical wonder from the orient. The dish comes out as beans and pulled pork in a small casserole dish, with some sweet breads to the side. Overall, Ms. Grey quite liked the dish and while she didn't finish it, she was very deliberate in mentioning that this was only because she was too full and not because she wasn't motivated. It has to be said though that the egg was quite clearly overcooked.
- Malay Green Pandan Fritters: Madam Rabbit also went with an oriental choice. These Pandan fritters are essentially bright green pancakes to the uninformed (i.e. me). Madam Rabbit didn't really rate them, although she mentioned this may be because she wasn't in the mood for something sweet but felt she had to go with the fritters as there weren't many other vegetarian options on the menu. I tried them and thought that they were fairly nice, but I wonder whether that was because it's the kind of meal where anything after the first one or two bites gets to be a struggle.
- Eggs Benedict w/ Ham: This was Marmite's choice and, after ordering, she let us all know that she'd never had an eggs benedict before. We were all suitably surprised. Unfortunately, though, Marmite wasn't all that fond of the Chapels Benny with Ham. Her overwhelming comment was that the meal was too rich; too creamy. I can empathise and think the kitchen might want to consider adding the hollandaise in a small jar, so that each person can add it to their own taste.
- Eggs Bendict w/ Salmon: Both Midnight Oil and I chose the Benny with Salmon and, notwithstanding the comments from Marmite, and the fact that the same complaints could probably be made of mine, I actually quite liked it. The salty samon was a great pair with the rich creamy hollandaise and the almost sweet bread underneath. Probably not something I would get regularly as it certainly is very rich - but I was quite happy on the day.
- No complaints about the service. Both our waitress and the bearded man I assumed was the owner were very nice.
- I suppose I could mention that our waitress forgot Madam Rabbit's honey for her tea, but she brought it over quickly after we reminded her and there was no issue.
- A very obvious theme throughout Chapels is their love of tea and our table chose to take them up on their tea-tasting offer, whereby each person paid $5.00 or so and could drink all the tea we wanted (conditions apply).
- We all though the teas we were presented with were delightful. I'm not much of a tea drinker but if I could get stuff like this presented to me each morning I think I'd be a convert. Definitely worth a try.
- The teapots also looked lovely and provided a great aroma for the table. Very pleasant.
- The Chapels feel seems to be a cross between an old federation-style Australian building (similar to Guildford, just a bit further down the railway) and an Oriental street-market.
- Full disclosure: I've never been to anything resembling an Oriental street-market, but Chapels has an element to it that feels how I imagine such a market to be.
Chapels is a decent place to visit every once in a while, but I don't think I would be a regular here. The teas were probably the highlight, which is unexpected as we were all there mostly for the food. The feel of the place is quite nice, the service was friendly, but the food was maybe a bit of a let down and I think overall it lacks a spark that would bring us back.
Also, as a somewhat weird comment, Chapels seems to want to make sure everyone knows the rules at all times. To participate in the all you can drink tea ceremony you need to read through terms and conditions beforehand. Even upon paying for the meal, there is a sheet next to the register that lists all their booking policies as well as other policies relating to general customer service. It's very weird. I would suggest they drop all that stuff and simply let someone know their policies as issues arise, as it's not a great experience as a customer to be reminded of all the things they won't do for me; all the things I'm not permitted to do while there - but I don't own or run a restaurant so what do I know.
A nice enough place and worth a visit - you might find it's what you're looking for, but wasn't quite right for us.
6 Artifact Emporiums out of 10