Since my return from the homeland, my friends have been clamoring to catch up over lunch with me. This has led to trying out a hell of a lot of new restaurants over the last week. My British Bestie Lizzy wanted to go to a brunch cafe down in Cheongdam. I am not usually amenable to travelling so far on a weekend, but on a week day with nothing else on the schedule I agreed to her suggestion.
On first impressions Ope’Neat is a gorgeous spot for a daytime lunch. The sun was shining and the there were no doors to be seen, paired with the garden style furniture the place exuded a real alfresco vibe. One of the walls is also adorned with greenery and roses to further give the outdoorsy feel. The menu is described an eclectic mix of brunch dishes with an emphasis on healthy foods.
Now I knew we were in the pricey part of Gangnam after a quick glance at the menu. This hood definitely comes with $5 “Gangnam Style” tax on every item compared to the rest of the city. Most of the menu items are 20,000 and the drinks are all 12,000. They have quite a variety of kombucha and lovely fresh juices, but as I can make them myself at home I opted for a glass of the House Sparkling Wine (12,000). This was actually delightful and very drinkable, and considering the soft drinks all run 12,000 each it was the best choice in my eyes. The bar is actually sponsored by Hendricks, so I was surprised to see that they don’t offer it, the owner told me it was because they have a healthy ethos, but I said whilst they are serving wine and beer its foolish to not at least have a G&T on the menu and he agreed.
After the owner had carefully described each dish for us, we decided to go for the Ope Neat Classic (19,000). This dish consists of avocado toast topped with poached eggs and marmalade. I don’t know what possessed the chef to put marmalade on poached eggs and avocado but I have to say I was mildly curious. It is rare that I can turn down the combo of avocado and poached eggs on a nice piece of bread so that ticked all the boxes. Whilst the orange sauce was sweet, it was more in a fresh kind of tangy way and the dish worked out quite well and it ended up being our favourite of the day.
Our second choice was the Spi-Mushroom Crepes (20,000). The spinach buckwheat crepes stuffed with fried truffle mushrooms in cream, tahini lemon dressing. I love a savoury crepe, especially if it involves truffle and mushrooms but these were a little disappointing. There was a lot of sweetness coming from the tahini dressing which just didn’t work in my eyes. The crepes themselves were quite sweet too despite being flavoured with spinach, making me think that this dish is aimed more at the Korean palette.
My companion suggested we order the BBQ Chicken Tostadas (20,000) to share. I am pretty much always down for anything that involves fried food, barbecue chicken, and guacamole. They were topped with a very zingy fresh pineapple salsa There were a lot of my favourite ingredients on this plate and I should have been drooling for them, but while we happily finished them I wasn’t left wanting more.
Overall I thought this was a beautiful location for brunch. You really couldn’t do much better for a cute alfresco spot. However I found the food that we ate to be a little random. It was described to me as Florida style brunch, but it didn’t seem that way to me. Perhaps we should have stuck with the salads and the eggs. However they do serve alcohol, and it just proves my point further that for the ideal brunch you need a good location, food and booze and in Seoul you only ever get two out of three.
Ope Neat is located at 22 Apgujeong-ro, 72-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Apgujeong Rodeo Station (yellow line) and come out of exit 4. Turn back on yourself and turn right along the main road. Walk straight along this street and then take the fourth right. Keep straight on this street for a couple clocks and you will see Ope’Neat on the left hand side. For more information you can call them on 02-544-9234 or check out their facebook page. They are open everyday from 11am – 9pm