If you are lucky enough to work in Deakin and haven’t yet visited EQ Cafe & Lounge for a relaxed midweek lunch, my only question is this – why not? If the expansively welcoming alfresco dining space doesn’t lure you in, surely the claustrophobia curing high ceilings, intriguingly pattered wallpaper, contemporary dark wood surfaces, friendly staff, to-die-for menu and surprisingly comfortable chairs will win you over.
The bustling hubble-bubble atmosphere of EQ is another valuable attribute deserving mention. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a busy establishment providing they have appropriate staff numbers and a cheery disposition when put under the lunch-hour pump. The service we received at EQ was second to none and certainly better than that teeny quite place on the corner you go to purely because no-one else does. Trust me; they’re all flocking to EQ for a reason.
Opening the menu was love at first site. The designer created tri-fold card is perfectly laid out and isn’t the size of War and Peace, for one thing. The choices are neither limited nor overwhelming and, factoring in the rotating specials board and salivating display cabinet by the counter filled to capacity with Panini, frittata, homemade pies, wraps and (for the sweet-toothed) cookies, cakes and slices, there is ample choice for even the most difficult and spoilt of dining companions.
Unfortunately pressed for time myself, I had to forgo the wonderfully tempting drinks section of the menu and launched right in to a set of very handsome fillet steak medallions and a snapper dish, which emitted such a tantalising aroma the photographer almost missed that untouched window-of-photo-opportunity.
The pepper crusted fillet steak medallions with crispy chats, ratatouille, balsamic reduction and salsa verde was unbelievable. Displaying a meltingly tender texture and fresh, herb-laced taste – the carnivorous component was cooked and seasoned to absolute perfection. Not to be outdone by the bar raising example of protein, the steak-cushioning ratatouille was nothing but enjoyable. So often marred by tarty-sourness from under seasoned tomatoes, EQ’s version of the provincial French classic proved a total success with vegetables soft enough to enjoy without being cooked to un-discernible mush. A tomato based component I’d marry with steak again and again – and so much better than sauce from a toxic red squeezy bottle.
Moving on with poised utensils to my highly anticipated snapper was how I imagine it’d be stepping out of a Porsche and into a Ferrari. That rare feeling of elation when you realise what you thought was best, might have just been trumped by something even better. The gold band snapper fillet with asparagus, macadamia-lemon butter sauce and crushed crisp chat potatoes was my dining highlight of the week. The snapper itself had an achingly beautiful crisp fried exterior with a juicy, soft, creamily thick flesh which just flaked obediently apart with the lightest touch of a fork. The combination of a nutty, buttery sauce, vibrant green pesto and textures to swoon over collaborated seamlessly to create an explosion of flavour completely unexpected, but greedily welcomed all the same. One other thing to note were the crushed crisp chat potatoes. It really is refreshing to see the humble spud transformed to its full potential, not sliced to yet another chip just because it will be accompanying a piece of fish. One taste of these obligatory starchy carbohydrates and you’ll be wondering why you bother with chips at all.
Time did permit and I had to run back to work, however, a quick stop by the counter to hastily purchase a home made peanut butter and white chocolate cookie. I know my cookies folks, and this one was amazing.
So do me (and yourself!) a favour, make the time to enjoy everything EQ in Deakin have to offer, because if I could, I’d be back there every day of the week. If not for the service, atmosphere, steak or snapper – then for the cookies. Don’t leave without a cookie.