Review – Local ‘Pest Species of Speed’ Café.

Service – greeted pleasantly and then ignored while they phaffed around behind the counter for a while. I retrieved my own menus, when we fathomed that there were menus and not just the chalk board. Once I grabbed the menus the wait staff were galvanised into action and glasses and water were brought to the table. We ordered two cafe lattes and proceeded to peruse the menu.

The staff were quite prompt in returning to get our order for food. The assumption that we knew the menu, that we were not first time customers, was disconcerting but the transaction went smoothly enough.

Coffee – milk on the cool side of the dial, too cool for me. I had to overcome the urge to drink it all very quickly to avoid it becoming cold. The coffee blend was unusual, with the flavour of burnt caramel strong in the brew. This presented a confusing first impression of bitter coffee that on second tasting revealed its caramel origins.

The Specials Board – it seems that everything tastes better with bacon, even the waffles with poached rhubarb & strawberries with cream.

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The Service – there was a large group before us. I was concerned that the food might be a little while. The table we had chosen, to be away from the front door, was squashed against the stairs and the main pathway to the kitchen went past it. The other table was too close, I thought, and made the space cramped and a little claustrophobic. At 25 minutes I was beginning to worry but the food arrived just then, the wait staff plonking the plate in front of me and spilling a chip onto the table. This received a comment but not an apology from the staff. I had ordered the Rabbit Pie with chips and salad. My companion had ordered the beef burger with chips and slaw. It arrived on a chopping board, gauche and inhibiting.

The Meals – My pie was compact, quite burnt on the bottom, but tasty and well seasoned and the pastry that could be eaten was short and buttery. The accompanying tomato sauce proved too sweet for my taste. The chips were a ‘specialty’ and presented as crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle but somehow seemed processed rather than authentic. The salads with my meal were delicious; a chickpea and green bean and a rice and pumpkin. The mescaline was just that.

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Reports about the burger and slaw were largely favourable, though it was a little cool and the pumpkin bun was a bit sweet but not unpleasant. Also, the chopping board layout and the abundance or sauce made it hard to pick up. The slaw was delicious, with good dressing and tasty, sharp gherkins as a garnish.

All in all a pleasant meal with some service and presentation hiccups that need to be corrected. Of particular note was the leaving. As we got up from the table one of the staff wished us a pleasant day and kept going toward the kitchen. Another was attending to some task behind the counter. We went to pay and no one actually served us, we had to alert the staff to our presence to pay our bill and I’m sure we could have just walked out.

The Atmosphere – we had attended this relatively new café because of the excellent reviews we had heard from people. I must say, we were not that impressed with the ambience on this particular day. We had hoped we might have found our new favourite café. Not this time. Like a new wine, the first sip can be sharp and unyielding and you have to have a second gulp to capture the full flavour. We will try again and see what unfolds.

3 out of 5 stars.

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Birthday Thoughts

Yesterday I became a year older. “Not a small achievement,” I thought to myself, considering I was convinced I wouldn’t make it past 40 years (I did, have, will continue).

Those were my silly 20-year-old thoughts. The ones you have where you look at your parents and believe them to be ancient. The ones where you can’t imagine growing ‘old’.

Of course, I am now older than my mother was when she became a grandmother. I am twice the age my father was when I was born. I don’t feel old, really, except when my back is sore and I’m limping along, but my mind is not that of a middle-aged woman.

My daughter doesn’t think I’m old. I’ve obviously modelled youthfulness to her. She doesn’t view being over 40 as a fate worse than death. She’s also good for my battle with body image. The thickening is happening and my inability to exercise is not assisting me in my battle to send it packing. She reminds me of all of the things I’ve said to her as she negotiates the maze of the 20s and the expectations on what women her age will look like.

There’s nothing more that I can share with you now. I need to keep things close for a while. I need to process the tumultuous times that have preceded my birthday, the twists and turns that have plagued my little family. We are all coming out the other side. Another year older, maybe wiser, not dead yet.

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Here is the delicious lemon meringue pie, made for me by my whizz-in-the-kitchen daughter, as birthday cake.