There's nothing more painful than ill conceived or contrived beachside chic and conversely there's nothing better than welcoming true beachside chic. Sydney does it so well and so badly at times. Badly is when the view speaks or shouts louder than the food which is a scant afterthought and prices rival that of a 5 star restaurant just because you happen to be sitting across from the ocean. Vespacific cafe is of the other ilk, a little retro style beachside cafe with a Vespa theme running through it in Narrabeen on Sydney's Northern Beaches. Service is said to be friendly, servings tasty and huge and they also happen to be very vegetarian friendly (and incidentally we see that they also compost but not in that in your face kind of way that shouts "I'm fashionably green!"). It's a beautiful sunny Winter's day in Sydney so what better way to spend it than to be beachside. I confess it's a compulsion of mine whenever we get a nice sunny weekend day in Winter.
Vespacific is relaxed - when I call them to see if I need a booking the woman says "Oh ok sure, for how many people?" and when I answer "Two" I hear her tell the staff "Hey guys there'll be a table of two at two o'clock, just keep a table for them". When we arrive, we see that the cafe is located across from the water where there is a raised wooden viewing platform. And what's this for? For checking out the surf of course. Canny locals get their sustenance to take away from Vespacific and watch the waves breaking.
When we arrive we nab a table near the window. It's not quite an ocean view, more a grassy view but there is some comfort to know that the ocean is past the grass. I breathe a sigh of relief to find that the menu features all day breakfast items. That means that their famous Mega Bacon and Egg roll is available and it's got my name on it. We order the Punjabi Eggs for my husband and a croissant with banana and a liquid chocolate shot to share. The menu has a wide range of vegetarian options including some that have me switching allegiences from omnivore to vegetarian such as the "Gourmet toast with roasted capsicum, eggplant, caramelised onion, capsicum and olive tapenade topped with fried halloumi and fresh herbs". Prices are extremely reasonable with most items under $10. I kid you not.
I look around. It's almost like a set of Home and Away it's so beachy and laidback. There's plenty to see including a bookshelf with a book "How to do sex properly" and a battered but well loved 1869 edition of "Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management" simply propped up on the shelf without ceremony. I enjoy flipping through it and reading about the "Mulligatwany Soup made with Australian Meat" and the wages awarded to male and female household servants with different wages suggested for those that receive sugar, tea and beer.
Also true to the name, there's a red Vespa adorning one wall behind a print of a surfer midflight (we spy a mini Vespa keyring on the owner's key chain too), paintings from local artists and Barbie, Skipper and Ken in a red convertible on the countertop. Perhaps I've been too absorbed in my copy of Mrs Beeton's Guide to Household Management but the food arrives quickly. It's freshly made and hot and smells inviting so I dig in eagerly.
The name Mega Bacon and Egg Roll doesn't quite describe how big this is. It's huge and about 15-20 cms long. I expected a simple but large bacon and egg roll but this has got not only double bacon (from the local butcher) and eggs but also avocado and a creamy chilli capsicum hollandaise sauce. I can only polish off half of this and I do so in grateful, hungry mouthfuls.
Mr NQN's eggs are also delicious and distinctly Indian. Two perfectly poached eggs with an oozy interior sit atop a bed of hollandaise and indian style spinach on toast. The yolk bursting only adds to the creaminess and Mr NQN grudingly gives me one bite.
The Vespacific Chocolate Croissant is warm and flakey and served alongside a perfect sized pot of Vespacific liquid Belgian milk chocolate and sliced fresh banana. I dutifully fill the croissant with the banana slices and dip it in the chocolate pot. Yes it's good. Oh so good.
As we enjoy our meal the waitress talks to Mr NQN about the camera and photography and mentions the dolphin and whale spotting earlier that day right in front of the cafe on the platform area.
Apparently nearby Longreef Beach is better for whale sightings so we drive there and are rewarded with a distant sighting of whales with some even jumping. Not all were caught on camera I'm afraid- there's a lot of pfaffing about and pointing before we realise that the telephoto lens was at home. But if you want to have a true slice of Sydney's beachside life, you know where to go.
So as now is the season for some whale watching, anyone eager to spot a whale playing in the ocean do try and get here pronto!
So tell me Dear Reader, what's your favourite local cafe and why do you love it so?
Pssst! The Not Quite Nigella survey finishes today. Theres a chance to win 1 of 3 Nigella Lawson aprons! Link here.
The deadline for the Secret Nanna Recipe Book is today too! If your mums or Nannas recipes are just so fantastic you want to share them with the world, click here to see our Secret Nanna recipe book project!
18 Ocean St, Narrabeen NSW
Tel: +61 (02) 9970 6649