Virtuoso is the new café on the corner of Manners and Willis Street the site where many similar operations have started optimistically only to come adrift.
Most recently it was a Mexican café and restaurant on the site is on what used to be called Perrett’s Corner. The Perrett family ran a chemist shop there for many many years before it became Perrett’s Café and Bar somewhere around 2011.
Now Virtuoso is poised to follow the footsteps of failure that have befallen some many hospitality operations in that venue.
Why? In a town crowded with cafés, bars and restaurants, the minimum requirement is to serve interesting food and satisfying coffee. Virtuoso doesn’t do either. That’s unfortunate for whoever has paid a good deal of money to refit the place and sad for the staff who work there. The fresh appearance with black tables, black high back chairs all neatly arranged and a long black bar is simple and appealing.
The flat white I ordered arrived promptly, but it was thin, sharp and bitter. The crema was scant and at $5.50 it was overpriced.
The scone on offer at the counter was said to be cheese and corn. There was a sprinkling of melted cheese on the top and two kernels of corn inside. It was also small – which is not a criticism in a town where scones are so large they would feed Africa.
It was also a bit doughy and lacking in flavour. No pepper, paprika, chilli or cayenne got any closer than the cupboard in this scone’s mixing bowl. It was 50 cents extra for the vat of margarine (or butter) making this five bite morsel $3.50.
It’s unusual but not unknown to charge extra for the spread, but why does the menu in the window says scone and butter is $4.50, when the scone platter on the counter has $3 written on the plastic lid in black felt pen?
Virtuoso is open six days (day times) with Sunday opening promised soon. The menu is a bit eclectic: omelettes, eggs, pancakes, muesli, toasted sandwiches for breakfast, scone, mini muffins and hot cakes for snacking, and soup, a rice wrap, tandoori chicken salad, Greek salad, jambalaya for lunch with chocolate rolls, a deep fried camembert with chocolate sauce, and fruit salad.
I confidently predict it won’t last long.