Food + Coffee Review: Hendrixx Espresso

1063 Gold Coast Highway, Palm Beach Ph: 0422 345 172

The ‘café without a menu’ has set Palm Beach talking, dividing opinions about their start up process and ‘raison d’être’. To some, the menu should have been in place from Day One. But others sort of get what the owner is trying to do – go slowly, start with coffee and get feedback about what people want. So, are you confused?

When we visited Hendrixx, it was immediately clear to us that the venue was a work of love. Sharing an iconic building on a busy Palm Beach corner with a surf shop, Hendrixx has scored a high exposure venue close to the beach that many looked at but few could afford.

Outside, cars race past on the highway; inside, we could be a world away. The interior of the café is visually stunning, yet at the same time relaxed and casual. A huge mural of Jimi graces the wall, lost in his music. It’s the centrepiece behind a gorgeous bar, all glass bricks and rolled steel benchtop, shining in sexy glamour. Lounges sit in neat groups awaiting patrons to sink into them, chatter dens waiting to be completed. To one side a lopsy-daisy kitchen wall tells us that everything here is just how it’s been planned – a little left of centre.

Visit Hendrixx’s web page and you’ll see a menu of hot and cold drinks and pastries. Tongue in cheek, really, a snub at the expected formula, however on offer when we visited was a light but inconspicuous menu – salads, toasties, açai brekky bowls, fresh juices and smoothies, pastries from Panya Bakery (thanks, Nobuki), and cakes and slices from Sumptuous Foods.

You’ll also see online the title of the shop: Hendrixx Espresso: Boutique Coffee House. Coffee House, not café.

At Hendrixx, coffee’s a serious matter. Sourced from Fonzie Abbott, one of Brisbane’s favourite independent roasters, it’s a brew for diehard coffee drinkers; dark, smooth, bold and brooding. Sampling an espresso of their beloved beans was a sweet delight.  A salted caramel aroma carried through to the taste with marshmallow fluffiness, which was  cut through with a nice little punch of acidity.  The beans translate well across the board from black to milk coffee with the same deep caramel flavour being enjoyed with each sip, and a surprising note of mango popping up occasionally. With rotating single origin beans on offer we were lucky enough to sample beans from Kimil in Papua New Guinea, an espresso which was delightfully savoury with malt notes dancing across the tongue.

‘Have your one cup a day and make it strong’ comes to mind. This we understand!

We spoke to Hendrixx’s owner, Marc (Spike) Neumann, about his vision for the espresso house and its origins.

“I was always a music fan. A bit of a rebel teenager, I joined a record club and followed the music of Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, and of course Jimi Hendrix. Jimi was my idol, so this place is a tribute to him.”

Look closely at the detail around you, and Marc’s passion becomes obvious.

“We made these tables here from railway sleepers,” he tells us. “You see the angles of this place, the dimensions and unexpected interesting features? It’s all about challenge and interest.” So, what about the ‘interest’ on the menu?

“Dishes here are always going to be light and healthy. That’s what we’re on about – nutritionally balanced food with some treats thrown in. We’re going slowly with that, finding out what people want.”

Somehow it seems that there’s no hurry. That’s the man. We’re away from the surf, one of his other loves, lounging in the den of a collector, in his space. Counters and walls are dotted with an eclectic collection of art. ‘Marilyn’ sits on the floor below a nude torso, waiting to find her bit of wall. Waiting.

We get the feeling that, like many restaurateurs and bar proprietors, Marc has built the venue as a local haunt to hang out in with his friends, a feeling that he affirms.

“I want this place to be comfortable. A lounge to celebrate rock culture,” he tells us, “and we’ll be applying for a liquor license so we can open evenings.”

“And the books up there?” I look up towards the ceiling.

He picks up a ladder and, climbing it, pulls down a vintage copy of a classic for me to look at.

“Have you ever read this?” he asks, knowing of my professional interest.

“No,” I smile, holding the original copy to my heart.

“You come back whenever you want. You can borrow it,” he tells me.

I hesitate then, speechless, not knowing how to deal with this trust, this generosity.

“You see the logo of the coffee house, here?” he points to the ‘XX’.

Kiss Kiss.

Private passions and obsessions. Now I think I’m beginning to understand.

“Say no more.” I smile.

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