I wake up on most Saturday mornings to the same sight on my bed side table: a half finished Gatorade and a phone with between 1 and 6 missed calls from the GZA and a text which he presumably has saved as an auto precedent: “are you alive? I need breakfast”.
What is different today, however, is that my main man has had a severe bout of food poisoning so this will amount to his first solid meal in 48 hours. So, once I get over the laughing fit of picturing GZA crippled over on all fours in the shower, expelling the venoms of Thursday’s suspicious Italian BMT from both ends simultaneously, I swoop through in the coop for the rescue.
Paw Paw (Green Papaya Thai restaurant by night; trendy popular cafe by day) has been on the hit list for a while following some glowing reports from some regular TCB readers (see, we do actually listen!). Our party of three assumes position, and two things become clear immediately: the menu is excellent, with plenty of interesting options making indecision rife; and second, the GZA has just been caught staring at the shaved legs of a man.
While the service is not of the friendly nature to which TCB has become besotted in recent times, it is very efficient, with coffees coming in good time, even at breakfast peak hour. The familiar assurance of quality that is the brown Campos cup fails to disappoint.
Food is not far behind. From the aforementioned wonder list of a menu, there is fierce competition for the right to order the breakfast burrito, but, chivalrous as I am, I let our guest take the prize. Judging from the ropes of melted cheddar swinging from his chin, sour cream smeared all over his face and the whimpers of joy as he shovels mountains of bean chilli, scrambled eggs and bacon into his gullet, the burrito gets the tick of approval.
An understandably ravenous GZA makes short work of his baked eggs, commenting on the smokey chorizo and crumbled feta combo, along with the spicy tomato sofrito and dukkah (perfect for someone with an unsettled stomach!).
I perform some customisation on the listed quinoa and potato hash cakes, deciding that the grilled halounmi and beetroot relish could use the edition of some poached eggs.
The hash cakes are fantastic, with a zesty citrus flavour, strangely complemented by the beetroot relish, that prevents it from falling into the all too regular starch trap of most hash. Perfectly poached eggs were obviously a great compliment, but the highlight is the grilled haloumi: not a trace of rubbery texture, it tears apart with a gooey melt usually associated with softer cheeses. I would have to say, it is the best breakfast haloumi I’ve ever had.
Already popular, Paw Paw is making a huge statement to take over the south side of the river with its great food and interesting menu. Cullinarily breakfast was fantastic, but as I’ve been emphasising for the last little while, breakfast should be about an overall experience, which was unfortunately not quite complete, as those working there made it clear they were at “work”. I’m not saying I want a dog and pony show, but is a bit of chat and maybe some mild flirting too much to ask for?
Coffee: 8.5 Menu: 9.0 Food: 9.0 Service: 7.5 Ambience: 8.0
Reviewed by AMac & the GZA