0

Bitton Café & Grocer

36-37a Copeland Street in Alexandria, Sydney

http://www.bittongourmet.com.au/cafe

The Bitton Cafe describes itself as “a local icon and one of Sydney’s best cafes”. True, prior to the opening of The Grounds just around the corner, Bitton was the closest thing to kid friendly cafe paradise I thought I’d ever experience in this town.  Bitton does have certain advantages over The Grounds. Namely its children’s play area is indoors and although its usually buzzing it doesn’t have queues stretching around the block. Note that I have read you can wait about 10 minutes for a table on the weekends.

The Bitton product range.

Like many top-notch cafes, Bitton multitasks. The Bitton Gourmet Pty Ltd umbrella covers  a product range featuring sauces, jams, chutneys, salad dressings, pestos, spices, infused oil and a cook book. Bitton also runs cooking classes where participants can indulge in a three course meal and a glass (or two) of sparkling wine.

Ubiquitous macaroons.

I dropped my princesses at daycare on Thursday morning and headed west with a spring in my step and a song in my heart to soak up the Bitton experience. It was an oasis of tranquility at 9.30am. The deli and inside area was sparsely populated by creative types lingering over breakfast meetings. I chose to sit outside in the pleasant sunny courtyard, just by the kids play space. Whilst I blissfully sipped my large skim cappuccino and scanned the Sydney Morning Herald the Mothers group brigade started filing in. A micro bummed yummy Mummy sashayed in (as best as one can sashay with a toddler and an infant in a 4WD pram) and loudly announced to her similarly be-prammed friends that she had only had 3 hours sleep. She then ordered a babycino for Leopold. Welcome to the Inner West! I noted that she was wearing a grey cardigan with a red and green cherry pattern which just happened to be identical to my own. This made be feel both self consciously dorky and right on trend simultaneously.

A cosy play space.

The proprietor David Bitton has worked with culinary rock stars in some schmik venues. Immediately prior to starting up his own show he was the head chef at Sheraton on the Park’s Gekko restaurant. As you would expect, the French influenced food at Bitton is good. Pricey but good. The breakfast menu offered a cornucopia of  filling selections but I opted for a simple apple and lemon muffin. It was muffiny perfection – crisp and crunchy on the outside and as fluffy as a cloud within. The lemony tang lifted it above the average muffin experience.

A superior muffin experience.

I have always found the staff have been very accommodating. They were more than happy to go off-road ie provided a dessert for my kids which wasn’t on the menu.

Mumabulous Verdict: 8/10

The kids play area is the main attraction. It is a sheltered nook scattered with toys and surrounded by chalkboards which is enough to keep my two merrily occupied. On previous visits I’ve been able to chat to a Mumrade for 20 minute stretches without being pestered!!!  Awesome.

Sunny courtyard area.

 

Bitton Gourmet Cafe on Urbanspoon

0

Cafe Japone

1 Canberra Street, Randwick NSW 2031

http://cafe-japone.jimdo.com/

This quirky little space is one of Randwick’s hidden gems and a family favourite. The proprieters have gone for an artsy vibe. The atmosphere is Asian chic meets Parisian bohemia. Japone describes itself as a “classical music cafe” and true to form, classical music provides diners with a serene soundscape. As if to drive the point home, there’s a piano against one wall.  Work from local artists is always on display however the quality varies from impressive to rank amatuer. Newspapers and a collection of magazines are piled up beneath the counter. The reading material is as eclectic as the decor. You can chose to exercise your intellectual muscle with the Scientific American or in my case finding it hopelessly out of shape, turn to the high-end fashion glossies.

Fresh muffins and patisseries.

It is a beloved local hangout populated on the weekends by dog-walkers, cycling bunches and families cruising in for a leisurely breakfast. There is a constant queue of track suited parents stopping by for a caffine blast. We even spotted local MP Peter Garrett here once. He smiled awkwardly, trying not to knock over fellow patrons with his lumbering frame. We fought back the urge to launch into a rendition of The Power And The Passion.

Loving the retro chic sugar bowls.

We love the French style coffee bowls which are large enough to bathe in and ensure you won’t be napping any time soon. The hearty and generous big breakfast is a family staple. One plateful of scrambled eggs, hashbrowns, tomatoes, sausages, bacon and beans is enough to satisfy Dadabulous and the two princesses. Meanwhile I can never go past the muesli with fruit compote and yoghurt. Throw in a serve of raison toast with a freshly squeezed juice and we are fuelled for the day. Occasionally naughty Dadabulous likes to indulge in one of the fresh patisseries. The pain au chocolat is a particularly wicked treat.

Big breakfast.

I suspect that the staff comprised of cute, petite Japanese ladies is the major drawcard for Dadabulous. They are lovely and polite in the way that only the Japanese can be. There is certainly no snotty waiterstaff syndrome here. During the evenings Cafe Japone is transformed into a creative hub. It regularly holds writers nights, classical music jams and art exhibitions. All of this just adds to the unique personality of the place. If you’re in the neighbourhood come on in.

Muesli and fruit compote with yoghurt.

Mumabulous Verdict: 7.5/10

0

Cherry Ripe Cup Cakes

Conditions were ripe for baking this afternoon. The combination of rainy weather and bored kids nagging for a treat sent me to the pantry in earnest. We ploughed into some extreme freestyle cookery. Working without a recipe is much like offroading without a GPS. Using  only my finely tuned instincts as a guide I ended up with Cherry Ripe Cup Cakes.

Ingredients

125 g butter

A few heaped tablespoons of brown sugar (how come you taste so good now, yeh yeh yeh wooooooooooooooooo)

2 heaped tablespoons of cocoa powder

2 eggs

1 cup shredded coconut

1 tin of cherries

2 cups self raising flour

Method to my madness

Cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs and cocoa powder. Stir in coconut and cherries. Stir in sifted flour. Put mixture into cake patties and cook for about 15 minutes.

Too Easy!

Dont let your kids eat all the cherries before you start

 

At this point in the proceedings P1 sneered “How are you going to make that into a cake?”

 

Trust me – its cake..

 

My offroading metaphor is appropriate for the finished product. It looks like a muddy dirt track but tastes alot better.

 

When cupcakes go offroad…

 

P1 enjoys the fruits of my labour

0

The Coogee Bite Cafe

The Coogee Bite Cafe

126A Beach Street  Coogee

Its an invitingly cosy nook at the northern end of Coogee beach. What it isnt is a spacious haven of family friendliness (I’ve been ruined by my visit to The Grounds of Alexandria). This didnt stop the families pouring in this morning however. The tiny space was packed to the rafters with Mums and Dads and toddlers. Perhaps they were seeking shelter from the Antarctic gales that were blasting the beach. Or maybe they were hopeless caffine addicts like myself desperate for their morning fix.

We lined up on the window side bench appreciating the windswept oceans vistas. We didn’t so much appreciate the icy gusts of air that assaulted us every time someone opened the door. Nor did we enjoy the ear piercingly high pitched squeals of a toddler behind us. I swear if the little boy had gone a few octaves higher he would have been audible only to dogs.

Cosy – maybe too cosy

The food is hearty, unpretentious and reasonably priced. Purusing the menu I didn’t see anything above the $15 mark, which is might unusual in these here parts. We recharged with our usual coffees whilst the kids shared a few gallons of strawberry smoothie, served up in a metallic vat. We treated ourselves to a berry muffin which was like Laura Palmer “wrapped in plastic”.* Despite its industrial appearance it was light, fluffy and fresh. In the absence of colouring in books and toys, P1 skimmed through magazines and played daleks with the salt and pepper shakers. P2 would not be confined to her stool and played hide and seek amongst the table legs. This is a hazardous pursuit and a good argument for making toys and colouring paraphernalia mandatory in all cafes – Are you listening Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott?

The Coogee Bite Cafe is all about the location. There are numerous tables on the expansive pavement oustide. On a warm sunny day, its a magical setting. The kids can amble about, patting every dog that walks past and frolicking with other children whilst you sit back soaking up the sunshine and seabreeze.  I’d recommend a visiting when the weather hots up.

Location, location, location

Mumabulous Verdict: 7/10

The Coogee Bite Cafe boasts an unbeatable location and good value fare. Its a great venue for a mid-week adult catch up. Unfortunately its not the ideal place to take your kids on a rainy day.

* A reference to the cult TV show Twin Peaks 1990-92

 

Coogee Bite on Urbanspoon

2

The Grounds of Alexandria

The Grounds of Alexandria

Building 7a, 2 Huntley St, Alexandria

http://groundsroasters.com/

Mumabulous has been searching for urban cafe nirvana – a tranquil oasis where parents can sip their coffee and leisurely scan the newspaper whilst the kids are entertained. Stop the press people! I think I have found it. The Grounds of Alexandria is as good as a metropolitian cafe gets. It was recommended to me by a friend who is far more knowledgeable on these matters than I ( Cheers Maeva). After doing some cursory research, I just had to see it for myself.

The first thing that grabs you when you rock up is the size of the place. Its huge, the tuscan style courtyard is more like a paved football field tastefully fringed with vege patches. The “garden” as they call it, is more than just decorative. According to the website the home grown fragrant herbs, edible flowers, fruits and veges are used daily in the kitchen. You can’t beat that for freshness. Even more impressively, they have a chook run. The chickens are exotic looking specimens at that. I suppose this place is too hip for your standard white battery hen.

A little bit country…

The pièce de résistance is the kids corner. There’s a dedicated nook given over to a play area with sculputural wooden climbing frames.One wall is covered by a chalk board. I mightn’t be Athena Starwoman but I predict this space will become a magnet to mothers groups as summer approaches.

When you actually go inside you realise that The Grounds is more than just a cafe. Its a “slashie” – a cafe/bakery/research facility. For real. The research facility appears like a museum piece but apparently the German imported roasting machines on display are used in an ongoing experiment to find the perfect coffee blend. A goal that I wholeheartedly applaud.

Phwoar – check out those tarts..

I drifted longingly past the bakery with its colourful show of patisseries and settled in the cafe. Here I ordered a civlised brunch of rubarb brioche topped with mascarpone and my usual large skim cappucino. I’m not sure if this was a wise choice given my weight has hit a post pregnancy high point and my bank account a low point but it was too tempting.

My calorie count for the day!

In the ladies loo – this is how I felt after the brioche

I then wandered about self consciously taking snap shots as the wait staff gave me knowing smiles. One young waitress even gave me some photographic advice. Guess Mumabulous is far from the first blogger to have passed through.

Mumabulous Verdict: 9/10

The idea is truly unique and well executed. To my way of thinking, the following additions would make it just perfect – a kids jumping castle, a water view and Michael Fassbender as the chief barista. One thing to note is that the place is “like so hot right now” and is often packed. I’ve read that there can be horrendous queues for tables, so if you’re planning on checking it dont go at a peak time.

Cute cups

The Grounds of Alexandria on Urbanspoon

0

Tropicana Cafe – Coogee

TROPICANA CAFE

207 Coogee Bay Rd, Coogee

The Tropicana Cafe is something of an institution along the Coogee Bay Rd strip. In a city where cafes pop up and disappear with the frequency of whack’a moles,this is no mean feat. The place is a microcosm of eastern beaches life. The waitresses, all pretty young things, sashay about in tight lycra and hot pants. The clientelle is comprised largely of NRL types, overseas students, dog walkers and bleary eyed Mums. Although the place is large its near possible to negotiate a pram around and there’s no baby change table in its spacious loo. These inconveniences aside, it is quite child friendly. There’s a kids menu with all the classics and they have colouring in paraphenalia behind the counter.

We like to sit on the padded seats just by the large windows so that the kids can peg missiles at the unfortunate patrons dining alfresco on the pavement. The menu is always reliable. I’d describe the food as hearty and generous without being too fancy.  The big breakfast options are failsafe and the corn fritters are damn impressive. The soft shell crab on bruschetta is a memorable dish but as is usually the case with crustaceans, the meat is sparce.

A refridgerated display case houses towering cakes. The lemon meringue pie resembles a sky scraper caressing the cloud line and the banofe pie looks like angels should be sleeping on it.

Enough calories to last a week

Local tarts

Today we shared a bog standard spagetti and meatballs from the kids menu. It ticked all the requisite boxes. The tomato sauce tasted like it came from real tomatos but there was scant visual evidence of any other vegetable. Perhaps if you ran it under an electro microscope you may have found traces of green matter. The meat balls were as light as cotton wool. The girls quickly set about smearing it from one ear to another which is a sign of appreciation.

See any green?

Mumabulous Verdict: 7/10

Tropicana is as dependable as an old friend and we are big fans of the colouring in books.

Tropicana Cafe on Urbanspoon

0

Brasserie Bread Cafe

1737 Botany Road  Banksmeadow

Banksmeadow is a suburb that hardly conjures up images of urban sophistication. Nevertheless that’s where we headed this morning to check out the famed Brasserie Bread cafe where, according to the website, they “honour the traditions of artisian baking”. I am all for artisian baking but what really aroused my curiousity was the discovery that the place offers FREE kids baking classes every Saturday.  I was compelled to investigate and so your intrepid blogger, with sick, snotty kids it tow, ventured beyond Eastgardens into the industrial wilderness.

We arrived to find the spacious eatery crammed with people. Perhaps midday on a school holiday was not the ideal time. However the eclectic crowd suggested that its packed all the time. What an odd mix of people! Tattooed bikies (almost literally) rubbed shoulders with grand parents, suits, gay couples, hipsters and frazzled Mums like myself. Everyone lining up at the counter then fighting for space along the communal tables.

The joint is buzzing.

I would best describe the food as rustic chic. I witnessed a passing parade of boiled eggs with toast soldiers (using fancy pants bread of course), hearty pies and generous bruscettas. Steaming soups were dished up in bowls as big as bathroom vanities. There’s tonnes of free samples for you to abuse. I appeased the girls with samples of jam and bread as we waited an eternity for our mushroom and ricotta on bruschetta to arrive. Given the crowd one could forgive the glacial service.

Go ahead – plunder!

There was a viewing window where cafe patrons could check out the artisian bakers in action. This is a novel idea which may have amused the kids for five to ten minutes if we had been able to get close enough.  The highlight of the outing was the patisserie. The girls delighted in chosing their treats from the colourful selection on display.

Simply irresistable.

Mumabulous Verdict: 8/10

This was not the kid friendly nirvana that I’m searching for. A visit to Banksmeadow’s only tourist attraction is not a relaxing experience but it is worthwhile. Those game enough to battle the crowds will be rewarded by the freshest breads and patisseries as well as a unique set up. In my view, the place could benefit from a few more child friendly touches, especially as they encourage families through the door with the kids cooking workshops. A toy box and a few colouring-in books would not have gone astray. If you’re not doing a baking class, Brasserie Bread cafe is better suited to a Mum and Dad’s brunch than a family outing

P1s Verdict

It was good but not that good. I liked the place with the toys and the frappes better. (Bellagio)

www.brasseriebread.com.au/

Brasserie Bread on Urbanspoon