‘Success breeds success,’ they say, and for Substance Espresso that’s certainly true.
There were tears when Jareth and Leah Smith sold Daark Espresso in Chirn Park, in fact the lights dimmed a little on the northside of town.
But there were better things coming, with the pair opening a coffee shop, Substance Espresso, in Runaway Bay.
The murky shores of a shopping centre may not seem like an ideal setting for a trendy café, but the venue is separate and far enough away from the main centre to be a drawcard on its own merit, while still catching some of the post-shopping flotsam. Win, win!
“It made sense to open a place on the northern end of town as we all live up this way,” Leah tells us.
Having already established that if you ‘build it, they will come’ with their previous business, the owners proceeded to gut the former Crust pizza shop, transforming it into a bright and comfortable space. The indoor and outdoor seating makes the most of the open façade with the shady ambience of a sprawling Poinciana tree right outside the front door. Turn around and you catch glimpses of the purpose-built open kitchen, servery and espresso bar.
In the café, all bases are covered. With Leevai Smythe (ex-Melbourne’s Mesa Verde and Diplomat) as chef and Jareth pumping out the coffee, there’s also a lot of love in the service department, an area where their previous business also shone.
Drawing our attention from the start is the full table service, a rare pleasure in an era of economic rationalism. Complimentary still or sparkling water also draws our love.
Continuing their use of Yatala’s Open House Roasters’ beans, Jareth’s barista skills serving their Family Blend ensure a continuous flow of patronage.
And then there’s the food, with so many standouts that it’s difficult to choose.
The all-day menu brings world flavours to great food, all with an extra twist to pique our interest: simple favourites like Eggs on toast using Brasserie’s (ancient grain) Emmer sourdough, Pork belly baguette with apple slaw, blue corn chips and salsa verde or the Substance grass-fed beef burger with shoestring fries; international flavours with French Dip – a fresh baguette packed with roast beef, Swiss cheese, a bite of horseradish cream, caramelised onion and red jus with a side of waffle fries; touches of Mexican with Achiote chicken salad, and a Cal-Mex Brekkie burrito; but most of all some good home cooking with a Brisket hash and House made crumpets with berries and compote. Oh, how we love homemade crumpets!
Topping it all off are ingredients of the moment – coconut yoghurt and cacao nibs accompanying the berries and lemon curd on the crumpets, agave syrup with poached peaches and passionfruit panna cotta on the house granola, and bagels with hot smoked salmon that always goes down a treat.
Referencing not only the weighty ‘substance’ of their experience, the nature of a founding ingredient – coffee, and the periodic table, Substance’s contribution to northern dining is already drawing appreciation.
“We’ve had a good response from locals from the start, but now we’re busy every day,” Leah says.
Looks like ‘The Dark Side’ has just gained a very worthy new local!
10-12 Lae Drive, Runaway Bay Ph: 07 5627 0127
Open: Mon – Sat 6.30am – 3pm
NOTE: Two photos supplied by Substance Espresso.