One of the best things I’ve gotten out of blogging has been meeting several lovely other food bloggers. Unsurprisingly, we’ve got a few things in common and they’re always great to catch up with and also are always interested in eating out. Plus I feel slightly less awkward pulling out my camera and phone to take shots of my food when everyone else is too! A group of us try to meet for breakfast before work once in a while and the most recent suggestion was Asana at the new Capri by Fraser hotel on the corner of Margaret and Albert Streets in the CBD.
Asana has had more hype surrounding it that most hotel-related restaurants tend to due to the menu being designed by Paleo Diet advocate Pete Evans. As a result, the menu has a focus on having Paleo options but it not limited to them – bread lovers can breathe a sigh of relief here. While not personally a follower of the Paleo Diet, or particularly convinced of it, I do admit that the side effect of it being gluten-free is helpful as wheat does not appear to agree with me. While Asana offer an a la carte menu for lunch and dinner, they only offer a buffet for breakfast. However at only $25 for a full menu or $20 for continental, it is very reasonably priced.
I arrived just after 7 on my bike – Asana is easy enough to get to but the one way streets in the CBD can make it tricky unless you’re coming from the Botanical Gardens. I couldn’t see any bike racks nearby so locked my bike to a signpost across the street. Bookings for breakfast are not required and a few who arrived earlier were already ensconced at a booth table in the relatively empty restaurant. I like the comfort of booths but it can be tricky when in a group larger than four as there is always someone who has to get up for the middle person when they want to get out. There are plenty of tables at Asana and everything, being a new hotel and all, is modern, clean and colourful. After sitting down and catching up while waiting for a few others to arrive, we decided to take a look at what was offered.
The breakfast buffet options change daily and are definitely more interesting than your standard breakfast buffet options. The hot options include bacon, sausages, grilled tomatoes and scrambled herb eggs – all free range. If you prefer your eggs another way, they can be made to order as well as omelettes, as I was told by one of the very friendly chefs! And although there is a range of Paleo breads available, there is also a board of standard non-Paleo bread including sourdough, rye and fruit loaf which can all be toasted. Little jars of Hank’s jam, tomato sauce plus containers of Beerenberg honey and small pats of butter are available as condiments.
I began with the continental bar where a large range of sweet and savoury options lay. As a massive muesli fan I was curious about the options. Mini jars of Bircher and two different types of chia pudding (chocolate with pistachio and coconut with blueberry) were available as well as a Paleo granola and a standard raw oat-based muesli. To go with your muesli there is dairy-free coconut yoghurt available plus a selection of add-ins including a range of fruit compotes, dried fruit, seeds, nuts and also a selection of powdered superfoods such as slippery elm powder. Healthy eaters will truly rejoice at this selection! For the sweet tooths with less of a disposition towards clean eating, there are Paleo muffins and a selection of non-Paleo pastries which seriously impressed my friend E, who said they were really fresh and delicious. Savoury items including devilled eggs, cured meats and salmon, which was impressively served with thin slices of raw beetroot and guacamole. Small bowls of fresh fruit including several types of melon were scattered on the bar amongst everything.
I grabbed a jar of Bircher, the coconut blueberry chia pudding as well as a thin slice of the Paleo banana bread and some fruit and coconut yoghurt. I also tried a few of the fruit compotes which I think were blueberry, strawberry and kiwi fruit. The Bircher was thick and delicious – I couldn’t tell if it was oat-based or not but I suspect that it was Paleo so not. Served with a bit of Paleo granola on top, it was delicious with a bit of additional yoghurt and fruit. The chia pudding was moreish and I would have tried the chocolate one but felt it would be too much – which is a pity because D said it was amazing. The fruit compotes were lovely – not too sweet – and the fruit was fresh and sweet, even the watermelon which someone remarked upon as lately it hasn’t been particularly good. The banana bread was as I expected and similar to gluten-free ones I’ve tried – very moist as probably made on almond meal and/or coconut flour but nice all the same.
I should also note at this point I did get a coffee which was from a self-serve Nespresso machine. I didn’t mind that but for real coffee fans, you can order a proper espresso coffee at additional cost. There are also a range of T2 teas and juice.
After enjoying my sweet start, I moved on to savoury. I grabbed a bit of each of the hot items and got some prosciutto, salmon and a devilled egg. The bacon was good and not overly crispy, which is how I like it, and the sausage was tasty without being overly fatty. I was impressed by the scrambled eggs which were creamy and well seasoned. The devilled egg was intriguing with the filling being mixed with chicken and topped with bacon. For those who don’t know, a devilled egg is a hard boiled egg with the yolk scooped out, mixed with other ingredients (usually mayonnaise and mustard) and replaced. They were popular in the 70s as a party canape but less so now. Unsurprisingly it was very tasty! The cured salmon was delicious but unfortunately they’d run out of guacamole when I was up so I went without but it was being refilled as I left.
Overall I was really impressed with my breakfast at Asana! Buffets are generally very dangerous for me and I don’t know if it was trying to be restrained and not eat EVERYTHING or the fact that I was limited by the time I had before everyone had to leave for work, but I didn’t leave feeling like my stomach was going to burst. I loved that there was such a range of healthy foods but it wasn’t limited to them or Paleo-specific items. Considering that it’s standard to pay up to $30 for breakfast if you get a few drinks these days, I consider this exceptional value. The staff were all very friendly and helpful and the atmosphere, despite being in the bottom of a hotel, is actually lovely with the room being warm and open. I would probably advise against sitting near the open bar area as its window is open for take-away coffees and on a cold morning, it can get quite chilly. I definitely plan on returning and am interested in trying their lunch and dinner menus sometime too. For those riding in like C and I did, there wasn’t an obvious bike bay around but there were several poles around to lock our bikes to. Overall verdict? Paleo or non-Paleo, Asana is a great breakfast option in the city if you’re looking for somewhere to sit down and have at least an hour to enjoy your food.
Asana by Pete Evans
80 Albert St
GF | DF | P | V | VV