I’m sick of cafes. Cafes that microwave their food. Cafes that cater cakes from suppliers. Cafes that ride on the cafe wave. Cafes that want to earn a quick buck. Insincere cafes, cafes without heart. But when expert cafehoppers/ egg murderers, Charleen (GNineThree) and Kimberley (Strictly Ours), told me Stirling Highway is one of the best cafes to open this year, I listened. And visited.
The bad stuff first: (1) it is situated at an ulu location with limited parking. You turn into Ridgewood Close, drive all the way to the cul-de-sac, which allows only 8 vehicles or so. (2) The decor isn’t as quirky as many cafes, but (I assume) the owners want to focus on the quality of food, and not the decor. (3) The sour coffee was terrible on both times I went. From Highlander roasters.
Now the good. The food contains NO preservatives, and they do NOT use canned food. They cook their food freshly upon ordering, so it may take some time to come. The cakes are baked in-house. Kids-friendly. Reasonable prices as they don’t charge GST and service charge. Sincere, right?
Not only is the food healthy, and affordable, it is homely. The pulled pork pancakes ($14) may sound strange, but it is not a mix of savory and sweet. Rather, the pulled pork has a slight sweet vinegary, which goes well with the Jack Daniels maple syrup. And the sweetness is mild, so the pancakes aren’t jerlat. The pesto prawn pasta ($17) isn’t bad too. Needs a little more salt, but the prawns have a nice grilled flavor.
The cakes are heated before serving. The strawberry crumble ($6) is hot with chilled cream cheese, a nice contrast. But the sticky date cake ($6.50) is monotonous, and not as moist.
Justin the cute server is super friendly and easy to talk to. He remembers me on my second visit. But too bad he’s leaving for NS, so the vibe of the cafe may change.
Although the food isn’t innovative or hard to cook, the cafe possesses a sincerity that other cafes lack. It is the kind of cafe I like—indie, has character, passionate, affordable. I spent $25 on my first visit and $28 on my second. Very decent pricing. If it weren’t so ulu, I would hang out there more often.
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.