Cafés – Central Coast Style

Breakfast locations are not in short supply on the Central Coast.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not complaining about this; I love a good weekend brekkie, especially one I haven’t had to cook myself. For a long while we’ve been wishing for more decent night time options round here though. Particularly looking out over the water – whether that be inland (Brisbane Water, Tuggerah Lake) or the sea.

Seems our wishes have been heard; many of the better cafés are now opening in the evenings, with booze licences and everything.

Newer openings around Ettalong and Umina include the Box on the Water, and Jasmine Green’s Café & Kiosk, Pachamama at Hardy’s Bay, plus there’s a wealth of good cafés in Ettalong already – Coast 175, Ferry Café, Wollombi Pantry to name but the odd one. Coast is the only place I’ve found that I can buy my precious Campos coffee beans up this way too.

So I thought I’d mention a few of my breakfasty / brunch go to’s:

My TOP PICK at the moment – is Pachamama, Hardy’s Bay. (*June ’15: see note, below)IMG_8999For me, they tick all my boxes – local, organic offerings including from their own gardens, green credentials, nice vibe, good view, great food and great service.IMG_9003

View out to Hardy’s Bay from Pachamama

The menu is brief, and changes regularly; I’d prefer a short, well executed menu than one with all the usual suspects, but delivered in a lacklustre fashion. In any event, they were happy to cook a version of one of their dishes just for me because I hate mushrooms. I’m sure they would be happy to whip up whatever you wanted as long as they had the ingredients – and, seeing as they have an (optional) organics bartering thing going on, you could probably just take your own! (The idea is to take them your lovely home-grown organic veggies and in return, you drink their coffee or eat their food, depending on what’s agreed. Toppest top marks! If you eat there in the next day or two and have mustard greens, they will be from my garden!) I was even offered a new flat white if the one they’d made me – with my lactose free milk – wasn’t flat enough (on the basis that she wasn’t used to my milk so it was frothier than she’d hoped!).IMG_9004

Latte/recycled, hand painted chairs

The extra touches with the food make it for me – homemade pesto drizzled our plates, and generous dollops of delicious homemade tomato chutney.IMG_9013Even the egg and bacon roll was adorned with beautifully cooked fresh peas, greens and (sadly for me) mushrooms – which Mr C claimed were really good. Despite having a whole plateful of his own:IMG_9005

IMG_9006

Bespoke, no mushrooms!

Best for ViewPoint Café at Killcare. World class view of the beach and sea from a 1st story vantage point. Downside is the prices. I don’t want to pay $24 for a breakfast, people! Not unless it’s prepared by Heston Blumenthal, anyway. Due to this I now only visit when I have friends to the area to impress with our views.                              Runner up – Box on the Water, Ettalong: looks out over to Wagstaffe and Pretty Beach, on the Broken Bay end of Brisbane Water, where the two unofficially meet up. Pretty as a picture, and great food. Plus they do a naturally lactose friendly coconut milk quinoa porridge. Wow. IMG_9017

The Box on the Water, Ettalong, and the view out towards Lion Island

IMG_9020Runner up – View ain’t half bad from The Entrance Lake House, if you can score a spot near the window, looking out over Tuggerah Lake. Also good if you fancy a microbrewery schooner or two along with. Brunch that is. Not beer with brekkie!   Runner up: Pachamama, Hardy’s Bay; across the road from the bay, the whole café is outside (under cover). My overall top pick, see above.

Best for house roastBlend & Roast, Koolewong. There are a couple of tables outside and a good park 100m away (Couche Park) with lovely views of Brisbane Water for those take aways, but the café itself is not one for the looks. Go here for the coffee, which is roasted in front of you on the premises, and the friendly staff (owner is a Brit, not that I’m biased at all). roaster1

The roaster at Blend & Roast, Koolewong

Honourable mention – Jasmine Greens at Umina Beach; not a house roast but using Mecca coffee from Alexandria, a special brew with amazing citrus notes. Makes for an amazing espresso! Plus awesome food & pastries.

Apparently Loo Loo at Copacobana is good, comes well recommended for it’s house coffees but I haven’t visited as yet. Will let you know when I have.

Kid Friendly – look, Disclaimer: I don’t have kids, and I’m sure most places are kid friendly, but I would say that Jasmine Greens and the Box on the Water are both right next to playgrounds. Also spotted plenty of paper and colouring sticks in happy fervent use on the floor at the former, last time I was there. Easy to see the playground and keep an eye on the blighters through the huge glass windows too.IMG_9030

Awesome Rhubarb & Strawberry toastie, Jasmine Green, Umina

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 Jasmine Green’s and playground

Commuter friendly – Short Black, Woy Woy. Reasonable coffee with a smile, friendly as all get out and in a perfect location to grab and go if you happen to be one of the many who park up at Woy Woy and travel into the City. Love their bacon and sweetcorn muffins; they have a daily range of sweet and savoury muffins and quiches made in house. Not open at weekends.

For when you need deli items too: Wollombi Pantry in Ettalong and The Fat Goose at Hardy’s Bay; coffee is good at both & we love the sweet potato crisps at Wollombi that come with everything.IMG_9002

Just for the home made Greek sausages: Ela Mesa in Woy Woy.  Funny little place which seems to be attached to the motel; doesn’t look promising, but if you scratch the surface and get chatting to the owner, you find out interesting things such as how he makes his own sausages; from goat, marinated in red wine and his own blend of herbs and spices. It is a thing to behold – treacle black like a blood pudding but with a rich, complex flavour. OK I confess this isn’t a serious recommendation but the sausages are really good and there really isn’t much else in Woy Woy….

For the hipster vibe: top of the Central Coast hipster list has got to be Glass Onion Society in Long Jetty. I mean, doesn’t the name say it all? Decent coffee, with art gallery to boot. Trawl round all the vintage shops nearby (of which it is pretty much one itself) and make a morning of it.

Needless to say all the cafes above have been happy to use my lactose free milk when I’ve supplied it. Which is why I do not, sadly, go to Gnostic Manna, Woy Woy any more. They refused.

Edit, June 2015: I’m sad to say Pachamama is closing on 14th June 2015. Just not enough passing trade visiting Hardy’s Bay during the week. But happily Pachamama continues in the form of her catering business; a rare thing is a specialist vegan/vegetarian caterer. Contact them at www.pachamama2257.com .

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