Remembrance of summers past ... Sutherland's Left Bower Cafe celebrates Aussie caravan holidays. Photo: Fiona Morris
WE'RE ALL GOING ON A summer holiday … in a caravan. With fruit and nut loaf. And Phantom comics. M-u-u-u-m, are we there yet? This new little cafe in Sutherland is a sight to behold. It's as if someone has parked their Viscount caravan in the street and propped the foldaway canvas stools out on the footpath, ready for mum and dad to finish podding the peas and come out with a cuppa and a crossword. Inside, there are bright anodised drinking mugs, picnic sets, rescued kitchen tables (including a rare Warren Macarthur tubular-leg model) and vintage board games for rainy days.
In the midst of this shrine to the great Aussie caravan holidays of the past, however, is a customised Kees van der Westen espresso machine and a young, local coffee-roaster on a mission to put Australian coffee beans on the map. Rhys Hart's coffee is one hunnert per cent Australian, sourced from small farms in northern NSW.
''Prepare yourself for the healthiest coffee you've ever had,'' he says, while tossing rashers of Coota Valley bacon into a frying pan for an all-day breakfast. Hart air-roasts the beans on-site at his family's equally endearing cafe, the Jack of Harts and Jude in nearby Engadine, and tells anyone who cares to listen how the commoditisation of coffee and emphasis on high yields is causing stress to plants around the world, resulting in higher caffeine levels and increasing use of insecticides. ''Australian coffee plants are less stressed, with no natural predators, resulting in healthier levels of caffeine,'' he says.
Must try ... pulled pork with smashed rosemary apples and tangy slaw on a fresh sweet potato and honey roll. Photo: Fiona Morris
A piccolo caffe latte made with Country Valley milk is proof: punchy and fresh-tasting, with flavour to burn.
Breakfast can be crunchy fruity granola with Paris Creek organic yoghurt and poached stone fruits ($12) or scrambled eggs with buttered leeks on toasted sourdough ($14.50). Produce is as organic and locally sourced as possible, with hearty sandwiches built on the Irish breads from newcomer Paddy the Baker in Miranda. Poached free-range chicken comes with peas, mint and fetta on Paddy's sourdough ($13.50), and roast pork, while a bit dry, is layered with mushed apples and coleslaw in Paddy's fabulous sweet potato and honey roll ($15.50). Hart's sisters, Kate and Jess, bake the homely cakes, cupcakes and date slices, and the coffee comes with a vintage souvenir spoon from some magical holiday destination of the past.
Address 3/45 East Parade, Sutherland
Open Mon-Fri, 5.30am-4pm; Sat, 7am-3pm, Sun, 7am-1pm
Do … curl up with a Phantom comic.
Don't … ask for an exotic Guatemalan: the beans are proudly Aussie.
Dish … Roast pork with smashed rosemary apples and tangy slaw on sweet potato and honey roll, $15.50.
Vibe … '70s caravan chic.
Bottom line … Breakfast $12-$15; lunch $14-$16; coffee $4.