8th Nerve Cafe

Posted on October 14, 2014

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My early errands the weekend past took me somewhat unexpectedly to 8th Nerve Cafe (103 Gaffney Street, Coburg). Located opposite the home improvement megaplex, Bunnings, this little local haunt is quite unassuming. If not for the wooden sign and a couple of small tables on the pavement, you could easily miss this place.

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The interior is equally low key with a slight industrial vibe. The wall to the right has a flower motif spray painted on. The furniture is a mix of wood and laminate. The counter area houses typical cafe appliances; espresso machine, grill and sandwich press. The display cabinet is jam packed with an array of assorted sandwiches and cold drinks while small pastry items sit in tiered cake domes.

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Out the back is a super cute little courtyard with a few tables, seats and planters. It’s a bit of a pity that I didn’t get to take a picture of it in the morning sun, but I’d only spied it when I visited the lavatory and obviously did not have a phone/camera on me.

But I digress; the coffee here is very good ($3.50). I particularly like that they stock panela as their sweetener for coffee. Panela is seen in more cafes these days, usually at venues with a reputation for taking coffee rather seriously. It’s a form of unrefined cane sugar and is my preferred sweetener for coffee. I find that it takes the bitter edge off the coffee without imparting any sweetness to the drink; so the result is almost as if the panela adds more richness to the coffee. I’m probably describing it really poorly, but point is, adding a touch of panela to coffee is a winner.

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From the food perspective, the menu is pretty modest with only a handful of cooked or made to order items. Two of these being either eggs Benedict or eggs Atlantic. The lack of menu choice didn’t phase me as I wasn’t very hungry so I went with a toasted croissant ($3). The pastry was fairly ordinary, it wasn’t outstanding, but good enough. In any case, it’s not an item that is made in-house, so my thoughts on it will not affect my overall perception of 8th Nerve.

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My dining partner on the other hand did sample the eggs Atlantic ($15), and while this was a simple dish, it was executed perfectly. The eggs were cooked just so to reveal gushing yolks, the hollandaise had a nice tang and lastly fresh salmon on top of toasted sourdough. It’s not a big serve, but generally speaking, enough for the morning meal. I liked that it was presently in such an unabashedly ordinary and unadorned fashion. It’s almost bold in its simplicity, there’s nowhere to hide errors. Here’s a chef who knows their own abilities. But while I’m giving it a thumbs up on taste, honestly speaking, it is probably priced a touch high for what it is.

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Notwithstanding the excellent eggs dish sampled, I suspect 8th Nerve Cafe is more focused on their coffee than their food. The small menu is telling and also in the hour or so we sat there, we noticed a steady stream of customers with coffee only orders. This is not a criticism and in any case, I think it works for them. If only 8th Nerve Cafe was in my neighbourhood, it’s the type of venue I’d love to have as my local.

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