The epitome of alfresco dining and seamless outdoor and indoor flow is EQ Café & Lounge. Whether it’s a delightful breakfast or long lunch with mates in the sunshine, a quick bite on-the-go or your next big function, this Deakin institution has you covered.
Celebrating its sixth birthday in May, EQ has continued to evolve year-on-year into a bigger and better venue, with the Bakehouse serving freshly-made sandwiches, cakes, pastries and bread – the perfect accompaniment to its dine-in accomplice, with a fresh juice bar station too.
“When EQ was first designed it was just meant to be a café Monday to Friday. Now it’s evolved into a café during the day, a function venue by night, and we’re also doing weddings here,” owner Wally Rao says.
“Then on top of that, 18 months ago we added the onsite bakery to the mix and that has just exploded into something that is bigger than I can comprehend.”
Wally explains that EQ is more of a sit-down venue where you can come and enjoy lunch and a glass of wine, while the Bakehouse is designed for people in a hurry and eat on the run. Here you’ll get served within two to three minutes and the price point is at that $10.00-$15.00 – so it’s super convenient.
“My father was in takeaways and I always worked there after school and in summer. That’s where I got my love for food. Hospitality has been ingrained in me… and 30 years later I’m still here!”
Open from 7.00am Monday-to-Saturday for breakfast and lunch, EQ boasts an extensive menu of options including burgers, salads, mains, share plates and sides, as well as desserts – and with plenty of vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free options.
There’s also a specially designed Tapas Menu, Set Lunch Menu (for groups of more than five) and Shared Feast Lunch Banquet Menu for groups of 10 or more. Talk about a place that serves the lot!
“We’re all about trying to keep everything as local as we can,” Wally chimes in. “Local ingredients, local supplies, local wines, local coffee – wherever possible.”
On the breakfast front, EQ has every type of breaky fiend covered. From pancakes and breakfast wraps to omelettes and the good ol’ E&B roll, rest assured that there is something for you.
For vegetarians, our top pick is the Wild Mushroom Toast to kick start the day. Think exotic sautéed wild mushrooms, herby ricotta spread and watercress piled onto multigrain sourdough toast and drizzled with olive oil, fresh herbs and fresh chilli. Very simple, very tasty, and enough to make you salivate at the thought. Surprisingly hearty, this dish is a nice alternative to your go-to smashed avo on toast – although that is also available for those who don’t want to stray too far!
“The bread is made at our bakery – multigrain sourdough is our most popular, made with five different seeds. It’s been fermented for 36 hours before it’s baked and then we bring it over to the café,” Wally adds. “And the wild mushrooms come from a local supplier in Yass.”
Next up is the Ham Hock & Potato dish with double-smoked ham hock, sautéed kipfler potatoes, caramelised onions, two poached eggs drizzled with pesto oil and white sourdough toast. The ham comes straight off the bone and has been cooked for 14 hours overnight at 72 degrees. The kipfler potatoes are prepared with lots of love – boiled, then marinated and grilled. All elements come together to create a breakfast to remember on the palate and one that screams EQ’s philosophy of delicious and carefully-sourced ingredients.
Another popular dish is the Hot Smoked Salmon with two poached eggs, labna, pomegranate, fennel and za’atar on sourdough toast. Salmon is a reoccurring star of the menu across both breakfast and lunch with EQ’s salmon proudly coming fresh from Tasmania and smoked in-house. The refreshingly smooth texture of the salmon flakes combined with the citrus pop of the pomegranate wake your tastebuds with a burst of flavour creating a more-ish mouthful with every bite.
Moving on to lunch we couldn’t go past the calamari, dusted in lemon and black pepper and tossed through a bed of rocket, tomato and cucumber salsa topped with honey mustard dressing. The calamari is cooked to perfection, and the salad is light and dressing generous enough that it evenly coats every leaf. Our go-to if you’re feeling somewhere between peckish and hungry.
“If I told you the amount of calamari we sell a week, you wouldn’t believe me!” Wally says.
“Another popular one is the Ocean Trout Salad with house-smoked ocean trout, orange slices, shaved fennel, baby cos hearts, sugar snap peas, asparagus with blood orange vinaigrette. It’s really tasty, but my favourite of all time on the lunch menu would have to be the Atlantic Salmon.”
EQ’s Atlantic Salmon comes grilled with a crispy skin top and served with a finely milled pea puree, shaved fennel and parsley salad with pomegranate dressing that’s made in-house. Hands down also our favourite dish of the day, this one is simply scrumptious, flavourful and guarantees a satisfying feed. If you’re like us you’ll be mopping the plate for more of that puree!
EQ also provides burger lovers with not one, not two, but four finger-licking options – Free-range Chicken, Black Angus Beef, Pork and Korma.
“It’ a feature on the lunch menu because, well, burgers! Every second bloke would order a burger,” Wally laughs.
Next time your in search for a new go-to for breakfast or lunch, head over the EQ Café and Lounge to discover its colourful menu full of variety and Bakehouse treats.