As far as Brunswick cafes go, Code 21 is formulaic – bright, airy, filled with light wood and greenery replete with an illuminated, smarty-pants saying that’s now become ubiquitous, however a fool-proof talking (and insta) point for guests.
Code 21 has taken every hospitality trend and run with it – from the matcha/turmeric/berry lattes to the addition of Middle Eastern spices added to many items.
The use of pulled ham hock in the Eggs Benedict seems to satisfy more than bacon thanks to less saltiness and effort in chewing.
The point of difference is with chilli crackling – of course not hot enough for a spice head like me, but still holds a happy tang and welcoming crunch.
The black brioche bun is again not exactly innovative, but photographs dramatically and holds its own as a sponge for each ingredient.
The dish therefore relies on sumac hollandaise to add a touch of tartness. I’m a happy camper after eating this.
The pancakes arrive – spiced orange hotcakes with blackberry and lemon curd, pomegranate, poached pear, berries, pistachio and chocolate parfait. Similar to a lot of other offerings in Melbourne, this interpretation of a pancake is quite dense – almost three people could share this as dessert.
The flavours are perhaps overly acidic with an influx of sourness from the orange pancake base, lemon curd and berries.
I feel if the pancakes were pared back in terms of flavour (perhaps even reduced to simply vanilla cakes) so there is some respite from the sharpness of all the toppings, this would be a dish one would want to come back for again and again, rather than simply photograph.
Most dishes at Code 21 cater to all the usual dietary requirements – gluten-free, vegetarian and nut-free.
Would I come back here? Yes. After all, following the crowd with a tried and tested formula isn’t always a bad thing. Expect the usual pretty-looking Melbourne brunch fare, done mostly well.
Code 21 is located at 2/21 Brunswick Rd, Brunswick East, Melbourne.