239 Victoria St Ashfield, NSW 2131
|Opening hours||Tue-Sun 7am-3pm|
|Features||Breakfast-brunch, Cheap and cheerful|
|Prices||Cheap (mains under $20)|
How glorious to find a park in Sydney that still acts like a park, complete with a bandstand, a cricket pitch and plenty of room to fly a kite.
One lined with established brush box, the sort of trees your kids immediately want to climb, and do.
One with a gentle incline from the cricket oval up to a heritage-listed 1950s former child health centre, now home to a smart little cafe with a scattering of tables inside and out.
Caleb and Belinda Maynard used to drive past the place and dream about what a great little cafe it would make. It does. Maynard brings with him a solid cafe background (Circa, Parramatta) and serious coffee experience (Collective Roasting Solutions).
He knows how to get the best out of a bean, but it's his commitment to activating the park that makes the place memorable.
"We're trying to reinvent the picnic and the nostalgia that comes with that," he says.
Inside is light and bright with lashings of green, the walls lined with Leila Jeffreys' budgerigar portraits.
But for the next six months, it's our civic duty to be outside in the sunshine, so get your food to go, grab a picnic rug and a fold-up wooden tray to act as a table, and relearn the ancient art of not doing much at all for a while. Frisbees and footballs are on hand if you're feeling active, but don't feel you have to.
Is pumpkin the new avocado? There's a warm pumpkin loaf with crunchy pepita praline, whipped ricotta and blackberry puree ($17), and a very filling bowl of roasted pumpkin wedges, cashew butter, roasted beets, lentils, dill, chives, asparagus and a seedy, grainy dukkah ($17), to which you can add crumbed chicken or a poached egg if you're completely mad.
Depending on your threshold for puns, you could go for the "eggs before wicket" – the "googly" fried, poached or scrambled with sourdough ($12) from Baked by Keiran or Nonie's Bread. It's hard to go past the egg and bacon roll ($14), but then, it's always hard to go past an egg and bacon roll.
This one from chef Scott Duncan delivers what it promises, the egg yolk oozing over bread-and-butter pickles, aioli, folds of thick bacon and tomato relish. The kids' menu hits the spot with its hummus toast, avocado toast, and ham and cheese toastie.
Coffee is from Stitch Coffee, with beans roasted by Nawar Adra and Collective Roasting Solutions, and has good body and an almonds-and-cream depth in a piccolo, a bit like drinkable velvet.
Batch-brewed filter coffee is catching on with the locals.
House-made sodas, lemonades, Moroccan spiced tea and chai with milk and honey round out a bunch of fresh juices and a classic chocolate milkshake.
No booze, because you're in a public park and should be setting an example for your kids.
Vegan factor Avocado smash, and two substantial greens-and-grains bowls, plus oat, soy and almond milks for coffee.
Loving All the beautiful stripy picnic rugs supplied for use.
Not getting Why all the beautiful stripy picnic rugs haven't been nicked yet.
Overheard The sound of children screaming (with delight).
Caffe latte $4