From the people behind successful inner city cafes Coin Laundry, Station Street Trading Co., Tall Timber, Pillar of Salt and Barry comes Touchwood in Richmond, a spacious and breezy cafe at the quiet end of Bridge Road near Burnley Road.
While Touchwood is no clone the owners have obviously replicated some aspects of their successful formula. The whitewashed decor, polished concrete, timber touches and greenery from Pop Plant are de rigeur.
Add a shaded outdoor deck area with booths (and a mini herb garden) and an interesting and varied menu and you have a winning formula.
Touchwood opens nice and early for breakfast at 7am (weekends 7:30am) catering to joggers and bright bouncy exercisers in lycra. Then the young families and pram brigade start trickling in and by 9am the place is two thirds full, even though the space fits 120 diners. It seems all of Richmond has converged here.
I take a seat at the high communal table at the front which stretches through a peekaboo cutout in the brickwork. There’s plenty of space to spread out the papers and the food without encroaching on your neighbour’s personal space.
I start with braised mixed beans and lentils topped with two poached eggs and marinated feta ($17). The beans are hearty and robust in flavour, with the addition of cotechino a departure from the ubiquitous chorizo. The arguably more gamey, strong flavoured cotechino works because the meat is bound more loosely in its casing, making it easier to mix into the beans and tomato sauce. Instead of the advertised sourdough toast the bowl was served with a folded wad of hot and stretchy naan which I actually preferred.
I’m lured back to the menu for Touchwood‘s signature dish – peanut butter and jelly waffles ($16). This Elvis-style calorific dish comprises poached raspberries with a vibrant sauce and chunks of peanut brittle along with a large mound of whipped peanut butter ricotta. The waffles are just crisp from the waffle iron and using wholemeal flour (the only concession to health in this dish) means that they are dense enough that the PB&J combination doesn’t disintegrate the segments. My only quibble is that I would have preferred the cold contrast of ice cream instead of the very subtly flavoured ricotta.
For those with a sweet tooth it’s a must-have and the serving is large so you might even want to share it between two as a ‘breakfast dessert’. With those little heart-shaped pieces it’s the perfect Valentine’s Day dish!
There’s lots to like about Touchwood. For me it ticks all the boxes in terms of food, ambience, service and price and is the sort of cafe that I’d happily travel to visit.