I’ve been eagerly awaiting the opening of Ricardo’s Cafe’s second venture in Woden that has been kept heavily under wraps. Ricardo’s Cafe in Jamison offers a fantastic and tempting range of cakes and cronuts so I couldn’t wait to see what the new concept cafe would be offering. Ricardo’s revealed the name of its new cafe, Space Kitchen, via its social media the day before its soft launch.
Space is much more modern and sleek with an industrial feel and darker finish to its counterpart. There are shiny copper metal sheets along the ceiling, large pendant lights and individual globes hanging down, black tiles against the open kitchen and black walls. The main seating area has a double-sided tan leather banquette down the middle separated by green foliage with tables on either side. There’s seating up at the kitchen counter where all the action is (my favourite spot!).
A separate bar area serves wine, beer and coffee. So what is the story behind Space? It’s a play on words. Since it is located on the ground floor of the Skypark multi-storey carpark which has plenty of car spaces, and it utilises the inside space, well the word ‘space’ sounded good and so Space was born! The decor flowed on from that idea. The white round pendant lights are reminiscent of an astronaut’s helmet now that I look at it again.
One side of the bar (towards the elevators of the car park) will capture much interest with Ricardo’s famous cakes, macarons and cronuts on display. Magnificent. I’m told all the pastry and cake making will now be made in this new location, so you’re guaranteed freshly made desserts!
The one page menu has a similar range to Ricardo’s offering an impressive array of revamped all day breakfast options – hotcakes, waffles, fritters, big breakfast etc. I’m so happy that it’s an all day breakfast menu as it all sounds great. Lunch includes items such as burgers, gourmet sandwiches, salads, fish and chips and more. Items are marked with a ‘G’ if they can be made as a gluten free alternative. Milkshakes are split into R18+ (with liqueur) and PG shakes. I ordered the nutella shake ($5.90) which was thick, creamy and chocolatey. Just what I needed. I was happy to see that they’ve brought over a range of fresh juices all served in a tall fluted glass. So far I’ve tried the watermelon, orange, mint and strawberries; and the pineapple, cucumber, mint and elderflower (all $6.90).
We got to sample some of the R18+ milkshakes during one of my lunches there. By ‘we’, I mean my work colleague. These came in smaller versions of the real thing which usually come served in a tall fluted glass. From left to right in the photo below: nutella, Frangelico and burnt marshmallows; and oreo, peppermint and Baileys (normal sized versions are all $9.90). My work mate tells me they did taste just like a naughtier version of a milkshake and the liqueur is quite subtle. We’re told that they didn’t want to place cocktails on the menu as they are not a bar and decided to go down the adult’s version of a milkshake instead. Too cute!
Sitting up at the kitchen counter is fun and I loved watching the chefs prepare and plate up. One of the guys was glazing the Portuguese tarts with a type of jam which he told me but I’ve forgotten what it was.
For lunch, I chose from the breakfast menu and ordered the Space Benedict (usually $17.90 however they were not taking payments during the soft launch). This consisted of a pulled pork croquette, two poached eggs, beetroot hollandaise, pork crackling brioche crumble and pea puree. The fat croquette looks cute served as a paddle pop in the middle of the plate.
I could only see a tiny portion of pulled pork inside the croquette but the whole thing had flavour and the crumbed exterior was crispy and fried well. I loved the beetroot hollandaise which was visually pleasing adding colour to the plate and provided a sweet element to balance the other savoury items. The poached eggs were perfectly runny when broken. The pork crackling crumb was certainly very crunchy, but I found it tasted a little burnt. Plating was lovely and I’ve even found that Ricardo’s has stepped its plating up a notch.
A friend had the fish and chips consisting of battered barramundi fillets served with pea puree, chips and tartare sauce (usually $19.90). Instead of payments, the cafe staff wanted honest feedback on the dishes. Our only feedback was for consistently crispy fried fish as one fillet was super crispy while another wasn’t. Easy fix.
I went back for breakfast today and this time I chose the boysenberry hotcakes with blood orange curd, freeze dried raspberries, white chocolate crumble and coconut mascarpone ($17.90). I got to watch the chef make it right in front of me!
Presentation, again, was beautiful. I loved the vibrant spring colours. All three thick hot cakes were unbelievably fluffy which is a huge win. The blood orange curd was a perfect balance of citrus sour and sweet. The small passionfruit balls burst in your mouth as you bite into them giving additional sweet and sour flavour. The coconut mascarpone is heavenly and such a fantastic accompaniment to the hotcakes. On one hand, it plays a more subdued role staying in the background allowing the stronger fruit flavours to stay dominant; while on the other hand, it provides that necessary creamy alternative element to offset the sourness of the fruit. The white chocolate crumb adds a tiny bit more sweetness to the dish. The fresh blueberries and raspberries provide an element of healthy, adding to the fruity flavours on the plate. I loved how all the elements worked so harmoniously. This was a wonderful dish that I would happily order again.
I decided to try the pulled pork sliders with salsa verde cabbage slaw and chipotle aioli ($16.90). These came in a serve of three sandwiched between charcoal buns. The vibrant colours from the grated carrots and cabbage looks fantastic against the dark bun. There was plenty of tender pulled pork that was still hot and covered in sauce. My only minor complaint is that the pork was a tad salty. But that didn’t stop me from finishing it all. The three mini sliders were enough to fill me for a light lunch as I wasn’t that hungry.
My work colleague ordered the chicken burger with crispy Moroccan spiced chicken breast, smoked bacon, purple slaw with lime sriracha aioli ($16.90) with a side of chips ($3). This was huge and piled up high. My work colleague mentioned this was one of the best burgers she’s ever had and thoroughly enjoyed it. I must admit I got a bit of food envy. Must try next time.
So what’s different between Space and Ricardo’s? Well, Space is a place where the chef can experiment with more techniques with plans to go down the molecular gastronomy path. For example, using liquid nitrogen to create the strawberry dust in my hotcakes. It’s also used to make truffle oil. Most things will also be made or prepared in house from items like vinegar and the smoked bacon.
Keeping in mind that it has only been open for a day, service is good and there have been no major hiccups. Wait time for a dine-in breakfast is only about 15 minutes as there were more people queuing for take away coffee than dining in. Wait time for a dine-in lunch is a little over half an hour and I noticed many take away lunch orders being served up. I’m sure wait times will get shorter as kitchen staff get into the swing of things. It’s always nice to see a chef encouraging his staff to push on to get through a busy service. One thing I noticed at peak lunch hour is that it gets very noisy. There is plenty of space at Space and I think prams will easily fit inside the cafe.
The cronuts had sold out by lunch time so get in quick. I’m sure they’ll have more on offer after this initial opening period as they get used to the number of cronut orders.
The Space Kitchen menu below.
Space will be open Monday to Saturday from 7.30am for breakfast and lunch. There might be plans to open on a Friday evening in the future. It is located at the base of the Skypark car park on the corner of Furzer and Worgan Street in Woden.
Value for money 8/10
FPJ score 24/30
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