Scandi-style cafe Smäk.
SMÄK: REVIEWED BY DAN STOCK
IT was a wise person (OK, it was Matt Preston) who first suggested using coffee as a marinade for meat, and despite my best intentions I had yet to put it to the barbecue test.
That made choosing the coffeerubbed porterhouse even easier at Smäk, a new South Yarra cafe where the nutritious menu is designed around simple mix and match options.
What a revelation. The coffee added a comforting, alluring umami depth to the char on a generous piece of steak cooked purple-pink. Finished with a good sprinkle of salt crystals, and served with a scattering of mustardseasoned nutty crumble and a few crisp curly kale blooms, this plate of perfect protein was complete.
Keeping an off-broadway pocket of South Yarra in matcha soy lattes and cauliflower rice eggwhite omelettes, Smäk (pronounced smark, from the Swedish for taste), is Tom Fissenden and Callum Ellis’s healthy eatery that thankfully comes without preaching. There’s no polemic on the menu, just good-for-you, better-tasting fare.
Fittingly, everyone is beaming here, and the space crackles with positivity. The room is designed around clean Scandinavian lines, with polished concrete and living greenery adding to the eternal youth vibe.
Other proteins on offer include hickory smoked salmon, char siu pork, and tarragon-poached chicken, but salads are the real heroes, as virtuous as they are delicious, such as the curry-spiced cauliflower teamed with farro, celery and walnuts.
Or try charred, crunchy-soft broccoli with chilli and garlic and a handful of edamame – a serene plate of greens more appealing than any supplement.
For those who want something sweet, organic buckwheat banana hotcakes fit the bill. And the coffee in the cup, thanks to Seven Seeds, is as good as it was on the steak.