I am entirely the wrong person to be writing a review of Sydney’s latest Instagram darling: Social Hideout Waterloo. To make matters worse, my dining companion for the review – a young person clad only in black – turns to me with a look of abject horror as we enter the flower-draped dining room.
The seventeen thousand flowers, which are suspended from the ceiling and stuck into feature walls, took wedding planner Anna Wang six full days to install, as owner Nader Issa explains.
Issa seats us in the coveted flowery nook topped with luminous Hello Gorgeous neon. I know it’s coveted because there’s a steady stream of young women arriving at our table to awkwardly ask if they can pose for a photo with it.
Photo opportunities do abound is this carefully curated space, starting with an outside wall where you can mount a flower-laded aquamarine bicycle and ask your followers to Guess where I am?
There’s also an Audrey Hepburn Breakfast at Tiffany’s mural, reprinted onto white icing on individual butter cookies placed on each table.
With some reassurance that it’s edible, my dining companion nibbles on it with a coffee that she reckons is slightly burnt. Her verdict on the biscuit is positive.
As for me, I’m knee-deep in a golden bathtub of Iced Red Velvet ($9.50), which, if you ignore the whipped cream and tangles of pink dolly hair (Persian pashmak fairy floss), is actually a pretty yummy strawberry milkshake.
Issa also insists I try Audrey’s Butterfly Flower Wisteria ($8.50) which actually turns out to be much tarter than I was expecting for a drink that matches the décor - I quite enjoy it too. Laughingly comparing his job to the guy sitting awkwardly in the lingerie store change room, Issa is warm and generous with his time. He's still getting to know his Waterloo people, who he sees as more interested in “prim and proper” plating than regulars at his original Parramatta café (who won’t stand for a lack of generosity). Issa is even good humoured when I suggest the Parramatta menu, with Arabic influences, is probably more my speed.
And so it comes to pass that I’m pouring purple taro milk over my Panna Cotta Granola Bowl ($18.90). Buried in edible blooms, micro herbs and high-quality fruit – strawberries, shaved pears and apples, and clusters of red currents on delicate stalks - is a very stiff matcha green tea panna cotta.
It’s perched on a granola that would likely be interesting alone, as it's dotted with almonds, pecans and macadamia nuts. To my taste buds at least, the granola isn't improved by the panna cotta, which should wobble like a breast rather than behave like an implant.
With waving plumes of red amaranth and vivid pink pitaya dragonfruit, the Taro Pancakes ($19.90) know how to make a dramatic entrance. After one tenuous bite of a luminously purple pancake, I can’t convince my dining companion to eat any more, even when I drown them in purple syrup (purportedly taro but tastes like doctored maple to me). Admittedly the pancakes do taste, and smell, somewhat like Playdough. Black sesame ice cream and more high-quality fruit - blackberries and cubes of fresh mango - complete this dish, which certainly makes for a pretty picture.
While Social Hideout do make savoury breakfast dishes, this is not your ‘eggs any way’ breakfast menu. Despite the number of tables, dishes are made in a very small kitchen, from a very crafted tight menu, so you won’t be able to make any deviations to your Red Velvet Benedict ($18.90). Garnished with an edible, though not actually delicious, fuchsia, this Benedict is presented on a red velvet croissant. The croissant's texture is a little stale. It’s filled with slightly set poached eggs, pulled pork, kale and asparagus spears, smothered in Hollandaise and dusted with beetroot powder. It’s a likeable enough combination, though slightly dominated by asparagus.
At Social Hideout Waterloo, food is the ultimate accessory. While I didn’t particularly enjoy eating any of these dishes, I suspect that may be beside the point.
Shop 4/5 25-33 Allen Street, Waterloo
Ph: (02) 9677 5226