Last week I finally got the chance to head out to Aranda to try out Two Before Ten. As always, I’ve been meaning to visit for a while now, first when they were still in the city and afterwards when they moved to the suburbs but various things got in the way. Okay mainly just waking up somewhat early and traveling there, which is no excuse in Canberra especially but I got there in the end! I must say, I do appreciate all these awesome cafes in the suburbs, thanks to cafes like Fox and Bow in Farrer, Stand By Me in Lyons, Common Grounds in Gowrie, Little Oink in Cook and the likes, I’ve learnt so much about Canberra’s geography.
Like with these other cafes, Two Before Ten is another fantastic cafe that are making a stand! No more travelling to the hipster hot spot of the city for fantastic food. Now you can get fantastic food out in the burbs. However, Two Before Ten is unique compared to these other suburban cafes. Two Before Ten isn’t located in a small suburban shopping area, instead it stands on its own, in what looks like an old community centre opposite the primary school.
Two Before Ten’s store out in Aranda is quite industrial with plenty of indoors and outdoors seating for both small groups and larger ones as well. There’s also plenty of heaters and blankets, so you can sit outside and soak in the fresh air without freezing in Canberra’s frosty winter.
The menu at Two Before Ten is pretty basic, with a range of all day breakfast and lunch options, including both sweet and savoury treats. The menu is pretty straight forward, with various traditional breakfast items done in slightly different and interesting ways. However, you won’t find any crazy options or hipster delights here, instead just lots of good old hearty options like eggs, bacon, rolls, burgers, porridge, pancakes and what not. There is an online menu that you can check out but be warned, the in store menu does sometimes deviate from the online one. So don’t have your heart fixed on something before you get into the store or else you’ll risk disappointment.
Luckily for us, we were extremely unprepared and just decided to fly by the seat of our pants and chose something at the venue.
Our first dish was the Sweet cornbread ($17) with poached eggs, bacon and an avocado salsa. I’m not a fan of bread but cornbread is a whole other story. That delicious doughiness that is super crumbly. Then you have that super crispy edge that just crunches every time you bite into it and most importantly, that delicious corn taste that gives the whole thing just that right amount of sweetness. Taking it from a savoury treat to something closer to an after dinner dessert. The best of both worlds in one fantastic little bite.
It may not be obvious yet but I love cornbread. Hence, when I saw this dish on Two Before Ten’s menu, the decision was made. Plus, not only was there cornbread in this dish, there is avocado and bacon too! Two Before Ten took pretty much some of the best ingredients around and then combined it all into one delicious dish.
Combining the right ingredients is important, but if it isn’t done right then what is the point? Luckily here at Two Before Ten, every element on this dish was spot on. First off, look at those poached eggs. Simply amazing and absolutely still runny. Nothing is worse than cracking open a poached egg and finding it semi boiled and I’ve had may fair share of poorly poached eggs in Canberra. Hence, its always nice to go to an eatery and not be poached egg pwned.
The fantastic creamy and runny eggs went like a charm with the dense and doughier cornbread. The cornbread was crispy on the top with a nice amount of char to it, sadly the sides of the cornbread weren’t quite as good. It seems like Two Before Ten cook their cornbread in a bread tray and then slice them into rectangles. God, wouldn’t it be good if you got one of those ends pieces?! Even though it wasn’t as crunchy as I hoped it would be, there was still plenty of corn flavour permeating throughout it. The lovely corn flavours were strong enough that you could still taste it when you combined the cornbread with the avocado salsa or bacon.
The avocado and bacon added some nice texture to the whole dish, with some crunchiness from the streaky bacon and some bite and freshness from the smashed avocados and diced tomatoes. I found the salsa really helped to lift into this dish, taking it from a rich and heavy breakfast dish to something a little lighter and also almost lunch tasting.
Our second dish from Two Before Ten, the Poached egg and bacon ($14) with house tomato chutney and sourdough also available as a role. While the cornbread with poached eggs and smashed avocado salsa was a little different and interesting, this was Two Before Tens take on your traditional, quick and simple breakfast plate but of course with a small twist, if you want to add it!
This dish is quite simple, there’s a little bit of lightly toasted sourdough, which brings that lovely hint of sourness to the plate and balances the richness of the bacon and the creamy egg yolks. Then you have the crispy streaky bacon which adds that porky flavour that we all love. On the side, there is also a decent amount of fresh spinach and a tomato chutney which adds plenty of sweetness, another hint of sourness and a little bit of liquid and moisture, which really helps with the dense and dry sourdough bread. With the combination of ingredients on this plate, you could turn this thing into a bit of a breakfast sandwich if you wanted too. Of course it would be a little messy, with the gooey egg yolk going everywhere but delicious nevertheless.
Of course, the best part about this dish? The perfectly poached eggs. Like the first set, these two were gooey all the way through, not a single sign of hard boiled egg yolk anywhere. I know I go on about poached eggs a lot but I’ve just had too many semi boiled or almost completely boiled poached eggs in Canberra and nothing is worse than cutting open a poached egg and seeing no gooey goodness run out! Plus, a really good place will ensure that the eggs are still gooey even if you don’t break into them straight away, I don’t normally take the risk but I reckon these would pass that test.
So if you’re a lover of poached eggs, Two Before Ten is Aranda is definitely a safe spot, not only will you get perfectly gooey yolks, the dishes and combinations here are really delicious and seem to be catered to getting the best out of the lowly poached egg. This is especially true if you’re into more traditional breakfast dishes and don’t want anything too crazy like popping candy, fairy floss or what not.
Our final dish, the TBT burger ($16.50) with a beef pattie, tomato, lettuce and swiss cheese with a side of fries. Okay so it took me ages but about half way through our meal, I realised that the TBT burger stood for ‘Two Before Ten’, so I guess this is their signature burger. Actually, I think its the only burger on their menu so that seems like a fairly safe guess. We noticed later that this doesn’t show up on the online menu so maybe the ingredients in the burger changed based on what they have on hand, who knows.
Nevertheless, the TBT burger, like everything else at Two Before Ten was quite basic. It had the core ingredients that you would find in any traditional burger, so nothing shocking there. I guess what puts this burger apart from others and justifies the $16 price tag, is how well each element worked together. From the crispy green and fresh lettuce to the melted cheese. Finally, there were a couple of slices of tomato, a rich brioche bun and an extremely thick beef pattie.
Nothing is worse than a pattie that is overcooked. As Anthony Bourbain claims, if a eatery doesn’t let you order your burgers medium rare, than they’re likely on the side of the terrorists and based on this, it clearly looks like Two Before Ten definitely do not side with terrorists. This TBT burger that we got was a fantastic medium rare, and we didn’t even have to request it! Look at that pink centre!
Of course, with any good burger, the TBT burger at Two Before Ten comes with a decent side of shoe string fries. Nothing too special about these, just some good old potatoes with a dusting of salt for extra flavour, so I probably won’t go into anymore detail with those. Plus, the burger is what we’re interested in, right?
Finally, a Cappuccino with soy milk ($4 + $0.50, small) because, isn’t this what Two Before Ten is famous for? That is, coffee. I’m pretty sure they are, they even have their own beans which are used by other eateries and cafes in Canberra. That must mean they have good coffee beans right?! Well, as you can tell I don’t have a clue. You would think after all these coffees that I’ve had over the years, I would pick up a thing or two. Apparently not. I still cannot for the life of me tell you which coffee is from a chain and which one has been made by a proper barista. I even enjoy and know more about wine than I do coffee, and I started meddling with both at the same time and knew nada about either of them when I started out. Maybe I should go to a coffee appreciation class.
Well after all that, I guess you’re not really going to take my word on this coffee. But I’m going to tell you anyway – I liked it. It was frothy and delicious with plenty of nuttiness from the soy milk. You can also get a large, which comes in a tall cup, almost double this one for another 50c, great for all you caffeine lovers out there.
Well that was our trip out to the burbs, well Aranda. Isn’t it strange how in Canberra, a five to ten minute drive out of the city is considered the surburbs. I must say I love how close everything is in Canberra. More than that, I really like how Canberra has so many fantastic eateries outside of the city and hipster hot spots. I don’t think any other city really has anything like this.
The food at Two Before Ten in Aranda was solid, traditional and tasty. Plus, the poached eggs were simply perfect every time. This place is definitely worth the drive, skip Braddon, New Acton or Kingston for the week and go to Aranda, you won’t regret it.
Two Before Ten
68 Bandjalong Crescent, Aranda
Monday to Friday
7:00am to 4:00pm
Saturday to Sunday
8:00am to 2:00pm