So how important is service to you when you're at a restaurant? Or even just a cafe, or a fast food place?
It's a bit of an old age debate, and for me, whilst I don't expect (nor really want) silver spoon service, I do believe service plays a fairly significant role in how much I enjoy my dining experience somewhere.
Having said that though, I don't believe I ask for a lot, a smile, water when I sit down and friendly, observant service. Having done a bit of waitressing for 4 years during high school and university, I totally get it's not always easy to pull up a smile if your customer is a bit of a shit, and sometimes when you're getting slammed with covers that you're not able to clear away empty plates immediately, so I like to think I'm able to observe and see what stresses the staff may be under before I make any judgement on my end.
When Brad and I visited Cafe Gaia, I'm tempted to say that I might have had some of the best service that I've ever had in a cafe. I know, bit of a big call.
Cafe Gaia is nestled down Avoca Street, just off Toorak Road in South Yarra, and you could quite easily walk right by it, as it's neatly camouflaged itself amongst the other residential houses in the area!
On a cool Saturday morning, it was quite busy, with all the outside deck seats taken, despite the odd shower or two, but it only took a moment to have a table cleared away inside for us.
Inside, Cafe Gaia is light, bright and surprisingly spacious, with tables neatly set apart from each other, so you're not likely to be eavesdropping in on other's conversations (although I do admit to enjoying said activity).
I can imagine the cafe being quite pram friendly for the mothers, and the general clientele does nod a little more to women in their 2XU workout clothes, rather than the typical hipster in them skinny jeans.
Coffee for him, soy chai for me, as the rain fell outside, we couldn't be happier to have our hands wrapped around the lovely warm glasses.
Brad ordered the Egyptian eggs, poached eggs on a multi-grain toast with smoked ocean trout, avocado, Gaia's beetroot relish and dukkah. Just so pretty isn't it? I loved the colours. I hardly managed a bite in before Brad swiftly munched it all up, I love me a good beetroot relish though! My only tiny gripe might be that it's a little on the small side for an almost $20 dish, but it was certainly enough, at least for breakfast.
I went for a special, baked polenta with cauliflower puree, chorizo and a fried egg, and also draped with a few spears of asparagus, maybe a sneaky addition since it was in season at the time? No complaints here! The polenta was absolutely delicious, with herbs that were mixed through providing a nice boost in flavour. I also adored the cauliflower puree, which was so smooth and silky, adding a gentle and subtle sweetness.
Again, maybe a little on the small side, but definitely enough for one meal!
So back to service, I couldn't help but just be immensely impressed with how Cafe Gaia worked. It's hard to put my finger on exactly what it was! I found the staff very friendly, but not overbearing, incredibly efficient, providing a nice pace for the meal (even if it was just brunch), and juggling all the other customers very well, without making us feel rushed, and also just being rather observant, quick to anticipate and pre-empt any needs a customer might have. They were hardly ever still, instead of waiting for something to pop up that they needed to do, they went and looked for things to do, which I think is always admirable.
I felt comfortable, and looked after, but also given my own space.
Sure, I've only visited once, but first impressions do make quite an impact, and it seems my thoughts are backed up by the number of regulars who popped by for their takeaway coffees, and similar comments on Urbanspoon.
3/4 Avoca Street
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