This week, quite by chance, I am continuing the theme of trains and trams. A couple of days ago I met my friend Susie for brunch at a quirky cafe right on the train line in the up-and-coming inner west. For visitors to Adelaide and those sans transport it takes a mere 5 minutes to ride the Grange or Outer Harbor line from the city just one stop to Bowden. The platform itself is a little grungy but it soon fades in your mind when you enter into the restored, heritage-listed railway station, now the light and airy Loose Caboose.
Alternatively, and perhaps an easier option, is to hop on the free city tram that glides down to the Entertainment Centre, and cross the road to Station Place.
Inside the old stone station, soaring tin ceilings with exposed beams give the space a loft-like feel and the large cafe is filled with mismatched rustic tables and brightly painted chairs. Outside is a deck with colourful umbrellas, a pleasant spot no doubt to spend a breezy weekend morning in summer. I love the retro and unique touches including the complimentary water bar in the entrance. Here, I grab an enamel jug, fill it with sparkling water on tap at the porcelain sink, take two little cups and proceed to our table.
As we choose our dishes and catch up on our lives a train pulls into the station.
There is a constant rumble from the fancy coffee machine…
Susie is a regular here and says the weekends are very busy. An all-day breakfast menu is served from 7 am to 2.30 pm daily, with coffee served to 4 pm. Some options are more suited to lunch such as quiche or frittata with seasonal salad, or today’s special of gourmet chicken, mushroom and thyme pie with salad.
There is an array of savoury and sweet options on the All Day Timetable. A waiter in red braces dashes about delivering dishes on wooden boards to a multi-generational crowd. Susie enjoys one of her favourites, the Caboose Board: poached eggs, bacon, roasted truss tomatoes, organic avocado, thyme roasted mushrooms, Meredith feta and toasted sourdough.
Among the savoury options are a BLeT (a bacon, lettuce and tomato toasted sandwich with an egg), a pulled pork slider and a taco…there’s quite an American flavour to the menu. After much deliberation I tuck into smashed avocado with feta, radish, mint and lemon on toast with a poached egg.
Sweet tooths, however, will find it difficult to pass on the peanut butter and chocolate French toast (peanut butter, salted chocolate and caramel served with pure cream).
The cafe is not licenced but given the hours and the interesting drink options, it seems almost irrelevant. I choose a hand-blended Scullery Made Tea called Barossa Breakfast that arrives with my very own minature milk bottle, and there is also Orange Earl, Green Apple and Rainwater Mint tea.
You may prefer a healthy Ginger Tinge – a carrot, apple, ginger and cinnamon juice served in an amber glass bottle with a straw, or perhaps a Beetroot Tingle with beetroot, carrot, apple and orange. Kids will love the milkshakes and smoothies (and there’s also Coco Pops with milk on the menu).
Today the open fire is flickering and jazz floats lightly through the loft-like space. In a deja vu moment, I am suddenly back in Manhattan in the early 1990s…in the days before brunch was big in Australia at one of our favourite winter breakfast spots that buzzed all weekend long. There was always jazz swirling in the air, a queue waiting in the cold, and the appetising smell of crispy bacon, sweet muffins and warm banana bread.
The only thing missing on this wintry day is a brick-thick New York Times, its freshly pressed pages strewn across the table, and snow on the platform.