The menu was a cool, hand-drawn selection of breakfast options with a Southeast Asian flair. But it's for the later bruncher we think Bolaven will really shine, with options like steamed salmon with enoki mushrooms, kaffir lime and ginger ($21); or what these guys are known best for already, their grandpa's pho (pronounced fuh) in either beef ($19.50) or vege ($18.50).
The look was very earthy, with a painted exposed brick wall, wicker lampshades hanging overhead and shelves lined with glass jars filled with unusual ingredients like dried herbs and pickled veges - so enticing we had to take a closer look. It was comfortable, but busy on this Sunday morning, although we managed to snare a cosy table for two straight away.
The food was as good as we had anticipated following four weeks' worth of chatter about this new opening. It was 11am when we went, but that early hour didn't stop me from scooping into the delicious star anise broth that comes with the beef pho. Just the right ratio between beef, noodle, greens and broth - this dish is one that you would return for.
Part of the pho fun came with adding to the mix from the cute collection of condiments - pickled veg, crushed peanuts, chili, dried shallots. My companion said his Laven brekkie with poached eggs, bacon, sausage and shrooms ($20.50) was "smokey" but he wasn't willing to share, which means it was delicious. I wasn't keen to dish out any of my pho either.
The coffee was served "anyway you like it", of eight-thirty beans. It's not the focus of Bolaven but nor does it need to be.
The service was very sweet and attentive.
I love a place that fills your water without asking and a bit of chipper banter at the counter doesn't go astray when paying.
Overall, Bolaven, named after a coffee-growing region in Laos, looks like it could be a stayer on the popular Mt Eden dining radar, especially for lunch.