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Not only was Sprolo named as one of the top 10 cafes in Perth by Sunday Times Magazine last year, one of my best friends and the person who inspired me to start blogging has also proclaimed it as one of her favourite hang out joints. High praise indeed! Add to that its convenient location and catchy name that just rolls off the tongue, and it was inevitable really that I would soon have to go and check it out for myself to see what the fuss is all about.
Despite the less than impressive exterior right by Canning Hwy, owners Gabriel and Darren have succeeded in creating a stylish and comfortable space inside with a modern vibe and a homely feel. Little wonder, then, that they seem to have already found themselves a faithful following despite only being open since September last year! I turned up at 12.15pm on the Sunday of a long weekend, and the place was still abuzz with people ordering coffee to go as well as dine in customers who looked perfectly at home.
Running down the middle of the shop is a 5m long communal dining table from which diners can watch the award winning baristas at work. Not only did Gabriel come 3rd in the 2011 Australian Specialty Coffee Association (ASCA) Barista Championship and 2nd in the 2012 Western Australian competition, the team also includes the 2014 Australian Latte Art Champion and 4th placed Latte Art Champion in the world, Rie Moustakas.
The menu is served on a little clipboard. If you didn’t get a sense from the roastery and bags of coffee beans at the back of the cafe that coffee is a big deal here, then the menu would surely give it away. With 2 pages’ worth of food and the remaining 3-4 or so pages dedicated to the different signature blends and single origin varieties available, it is clear that Gabriel and Darren are on a mission to revamp the Perth coffee scene.
I started with the Etude blend, which was described as having chocolate notes, a perfectly apt description as it was rich and creamy yet mild in flavour with a subtle sweetness. It went down easily but lacked the kick that a coffee fanatic would likely be after.
I followed this with the Forte blend. As the name suggests, this blend has a bolder flavour and was described as being earthier with spice notes. Again, I thought the description was spot on. This coffee was more intense with an ever so slight sourness without being bitter, and for me, this hit the spot more.
To go with my coffees, I ordered the smashed peas on rye ($14), which I thought was simple but honest, wholesome and homely. Or maybe that’s just because I have the same Ikea plates at home. The sweet pea edamame mash was done just the way I like it, that is to say rustic with small chunks to give it a bit more bite. The soft creamy texture contrasted nicely with the fresh juicy tangy cherry tomatoes, the sticky sweet and sour pomegranate molasses, and the crunch of the rye toast and fried shallots sprinkled on top. The shallots added a lovely aroma and slightly Asian flavour which was nothing short of inspired and made me take a mental note to try sprinkling fried shallots on anything and everything at home.
My friend had the smoked salmon bagel ($16), which similarly was presented modestly but combined simple flavours well. The chewy texture of the bagel contrasted nicely with the soft slivers of salmon topped with coriander cream cheese, and the Japanese style cucumber salad added freshness and a slight crunch. Little sesame seeds completed the dish with an additional layer of flavour and texture.
It’s counter service at Sprolo, but I found the staff to be attentive towards clearing the tables in a timely fashion as each group of diners heads off and another comes to take its place. They’re friendly and helpful, and despite the rapid turnover, did not make me feel at any time like I needed to rush.
The interior of Sprolo epitomises the art of stylistic simplicity. I loved the row of exposed lightbulbs right down the middle of the space, the use of simple white pails to store cutlery, and the combination of black and white offset with Tiffany blue, though I must admit that I am somewhat biased towards loving anything in that particular shade. That this space is a labour of love is not only evident in their attention to colours but also in the details that reflect so much of the owners’ personality. I have inside information that they are also first rate musicians in their own right, and throughout the cafe you will find traces of this fact, from the guitars displayed on the wall, to the trendy beats playing at a relaxed volume in the background, and even in the naming of their signature blends as “Etude” (a French word for a short but difficult instrumental musical composition, for instance by Chopin or Debussy) and “Forte” (an Italian instructional word used in music when a piece is to be played loudly/forcefully).
I thought the meals are reasonably priced and portion sizes are good in that they aren’t overfilling. I was lucky enough to be treated to lunch by my dining buddy on this occasion, so can’t remember exactly, but I think the coffees are around $4. I’m told a babycino is $1.50.
Mondays to Saturdays 7am-4pm
138 Canning Hwy, South Perth
There’s parking right next to the building, which is a left turn off Canning Hwy before the Douglas Ave intersection if you’re heading towards Fremantle
Tel: 0401 625 134
Loved it! Come here for great coffee in a relaxed vibe, and healthy homely food that is elegant in its simplicity. I’ll be back to try the Singaporean style breakfast! And the coconut chia pudding. Oh, and the banana and caramel waffle too!
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