I’d been wanting to make a trip to my original hometown for quite some time now. Good old Wollongong. That laid back, quiet and sunny place wedged between the lush Illawarra Escarpment and the Tasman Sea. A gorgeous part of our state; providing you keep those industrial smoke stacks well out of your line of vision.
Twenty years I’ve been living in Sydney and only four or five times have I made it back to Wollongong. Even with its close proximity. Each visit inevitably involved a drive by our old family house in Dapto, yet this time it was my first trip to the ‘Gong on a train. No visit to Dapto, or even the city centre. Just a leisurely walk around the harbour and lunch at a place on a not-so-glamourous section of Flinders Street on the edge of the CBD.
Wild Moose Café is a little touch of South Africa and an even smaller touch of Sweden. Don’t expect minimal beige and beech furnishings, however, as this place is more Cape Town than Stockholm; on a busy road, on the Illawarra coast, surrounded by car dealerships. Bright earthy colours, animal statues and prints and paintings.
This is the pride and joy of husband and wife team Wouther Debbes and Anki Rask. Wouther takes a few of the flavours from his wife’s homeland of Sweden, adds a little from his own homeland of South Africa and melds it with things we’re all familiar with.
Breakfast brings the likes of Grandma’s savoury mince and a Karoo brekki that features boerewors, that delicious spiced farmers sausage from South Africa. Lunch has a couple of burgers, risottos, salads and seafood. Aside from a moose antler suspended over the espresso machine and a bust up on the wall, the only other Swedish things I could see was a salad dressing and a chocolate fondant.
From the breakfast menu we have the walnut delight (16.5); a toasted slice of homemade wholemeal walnut bread hidden beneath a mound of baby rocket with avocado, roasted tomato and crumbled feta. It’s all light and fresh but the balsamic dressing was so high in volume that it transformed the bread into a soppy and vinegary sponge. Not quite the delight we were hoping for.
The Swedish dressing was just right on the roasted vegetable salad (17); a rather simple ensemble of leaves, roasted beet, butternut pumpkin, red capsicum and feta. Not sure what made the dressing Swedish, however, as it was like any regular vinaigrette.
I quite liked the Zanzibar chicken (19.5); a pan-cooked marinated and very lightly spiced breast on Israeli couscous studded with preserved lemon, finished with cream. I would have loved more of the spices to come through, as well as some chilli; aromats I know are alive and kicking on this island off Tanzania.
An affogato and piccolo latté complete the lunch for us before it was time to mosey on back to the station to catch our train back to the big smoke. Until next time, Wollongong!