The owner of the Darby Street cafe serving up a gourmet presentation of the “old-fashioned Australian classic”, Vegemite toast, says the store had no intentions of the snack going viral online.
Core Espresso owner Emma Reid told the Newcastle Herald the $7 meal served on Monday to regular customer Huon Oliver was meant to give the simple offering a “bit more presentation”.
“To be quite honest, it’s an off-menu item,” she said. “We tend not to focus too heavily on our toast offerings, we do put a fair bit of effort into our poached eggs and smashed avocado on toast.
“But if someone does come in and they request good old-fashioned Vegemite on toast, then we’re prepared to gourmet it up and get some master chef action on the plate.”
Mr Oliver, who lives nearby at The Hill, said he was dining with a friend who had returned from overseas and was “craving” the spread.
His original Instagram photo of the meal was shared by popular social-media account Brown Cardigan, who spread the word about the $7 meal to their 349,000 Instagram followers.
“One of our regulars was in for a quick bite to eat,” Ms Reid said. “He was a bit smitten with our attention to detail. He popped it up on his Instagram and it’s gone from there.
“It’s sparked a fierce debate – not all positive, but we’re not taking it too seriously. The dish itself wasn’t meant to be taken too seriously.
“Maybe it’s the debate the nation needed to have.”
When the Herald sampled the meal on Wednesday, Core Espresso cook Nathan McCarter said the item was proving popular after the attention.
“Our version is a representation of what we do here, we do take a lot of pride in presentation and quality,” he said.
“It’s a little bit up-market and high-end, but it fits in with the rest of menu. If it’s getting people in here, it’s all good.”
Asked if there was any secret to the meal, Mr McCarter said “any type of coffee” would complement the offering.
“We don’t like to judge anyone’s preference on [the amount of] Vegemite, that’s why we don’t put it on there. We leave it up to them.
“Anything goes with Vegemite really, we do have a few people add to the Vegemite – avocado’s been super popular … getting a scoop of avo on there.”