With my immediate family living north of the border, it’s generally once a year that one of us makes the effort to visit the other. What is it with getting older and becoming time-poor? I guess we all have time to do what we want, within reason of course, but it’s so easy to just let things roll with the everyday routine.
Big Sis felt the need to get away and after figuring when was a good time to hit town during our currently busy lives, flights were booked, she arrived and we were spending quality time before we knew it. Food, booze and reconnection.
For the duration of her stay we nibbled on platters of meats, cheese and tid bits and drank enough vino to make the recycle bin a tad heavier than normal. Of course we hit the pavement and ate local and thanks to a generous and well-timed invitation, a leisurely lunch at this joint.
The last time the two of us were in this corner of Waterloo together was when the Bay City Rollers were in the charts, and the trendiest things around were the coloured and striped Razzmatazz socks on my sisters legs.
So here we are in the Danks Street precinct, circa 2013. It may have lost a bit of its sparkle, but this designer enclave still bustles with clean-cut urbanites that are out for a spot of designer shopping and strutting. The pyd. building is a bit of a one stop shop for top-quality high-margin objects and accessories for the home, and at its entrance is somewhere to kick back, take a load off and re-nourish. The Chalkboard Cafe.
Mimosa’s kick things off as we give the menu a once-over and admire the beautiful objects all around us. No, not the pretty people but the things hanging and sitting around with priced swing-tags that you can purchase as well.
I was chuffed to see pork belly show its high-calorie face on the menu not once, but twice. The crisp pork belly salad (16) may have been sizeable but it was light at the same time. With the makings of coleslaw (cabbage & carrot) plus a few other thinly shaved vegetables, the chilli and lime dressing brought some Asian flavours to the bowl. And then there was the crispy bits of pork belly; the star of the dish.
When I saw crispy fried chicken (15) as a light snack I wasn’t expecting it to be so big. I was a little disappointed to see it was chunks of thigh fillet and not pieces of chicken on the bone, but the juiciness of each piece was enough to make us eat it all. An un-spicy tomato chilli jam comes with it and a disc of tortilla that I felt was unnecessary. A squeeze of lemon would have been nice, especially for the naked salad leaves.
Moving onto a couple of glasses of vino; malbec rosé for her and a shiraz for me, there was a collective gasp when we got the tagliatelle with chorizo & olives (19). A simple-yet-tasty sauce of tomato, capers and herbs and a beyond-generous pile of mildly-flavoured chorizo. I think I ate most of it.
Pork belly dish number two, or braised pork belly (27) to be precise, is a door-stop sized lump of porcine goodness that was so tender that it required minimal chewing. Not as much crunch from the rind but I still like it that way; and that spiced red wine syrup it’s wading in with fresh cherries is beautiful.
The last of the savouries is the signature open steak sandwich (18). More like a tartine with serious attitude, this fella is topped with juicy strips of charred flesh, sautéed mushrooms and red onion & sage marmalade. We found the onions a little too dessert-like, but it was all about that meat and crusty bread.
Paula takes great pride in not only the front-of-house service but the desserts that are her own recipes. She’s one graceful lady that loves a bit of sugar. We have a creamy coconut panna cotta teamed with berries and fresh tamarillo, and a big-enough-for-two triple chocolate caramel coffee brownie. Both are good but the brownie won my heart, especially when you hit a fissure and caramel starts oozing out. I reckon a slight heating would induce a few more goose bumps, as well as a good quality vanilla or coffee ice cream.
It was a good idea that we walked home back to Erskineville. We were stuffed.
hnf & co dined as guests of The Chalkboard Cafe