Mr NQN has his sporty thing. Every weekend or so he has to run around and get it out of his system. I have a similar thing and that involves shopping. Even grocery shopping to me is fun. So when I got the chance to sneak in a little shopping amongst a lunch I get very excited. Armchair Collective is a shop slash cafe that sells...well armchairs as well as all sorts of beach side items, cushions, cups, bowls and fresh flowers.
There is sometimes an unease when you walk into a place that is full of locals. They clearly know the place well and you (or at least I) feel like an interloper. Especially when shared tables are involved and large sprawling families occupy them or girls in groups huddle for warmth or gossip. So when Mr NQN and I arrived at The Armchair Collective I felt a bit out of place looking for a table. Like we were the last two standing in a game of musical chairs as we see group after group take the remaining empty tables.
We end up perching on the end of one of the large table but then move swiftly when we see a table free up. This five month old cafe is frightfully busy but it is also quite large with lots of tables. The food comes out quickly and so turnover is fast and I don't think you would end up waiting for more than 10 minutes for a table if that. Ordering is at the counter where you also get a copy of the menu.
Lunch is served from 12pm-3pm and there are the usual cafe staples: soups, burgers, sandwiches and salads. I'm a bit smitten with the idea of an olive oil panini and specifically their version of a BLT-the BRT with rocket replacing the lettuce. The prices range from excellent to prices that Mr NQN gristles at ($25 for fish and chips, "they'd want to be good" he says and is not persuaded by the fact that they are Whale Ale beer coated ). Things seems to be mostly around the $15 mark except for the aforementioned fish and chips and the more substantial sounding lamb and trout.
The guy behind the counter is very friendly and asks how your day is going (and actually waits and listens for the answer!) and when I ask him he says that taking photos inside is absolutely not a problem at all. I take my large wooden number to the table and then do a bit of a walk around of the store. There are loads of gifty types of presents, a lovely range of candles by ZenDiva, mint balls which are a definite curiosity, delicious looking Australian honeycomb and lovely tea sets and glasses. Still, perhaps I was having an off day but nothing made it's way onto my credit card. Perhaps Mr NQN has been practicising magic! ;)
I've had my happy lap around and I look up and see that our food and drinks are being delivered to the table. My loose leaf chai is a generous serving in a teapot boiled with milk the way it should be with a side of honey and cinnamon. It's excellent with a delicious array of spices and even a slight hot cinnamon tingle at the end. And there was enough in the teapot to make 5 cup's worth (this is where Mr NQN's mum Tuulikki would beam up at the sky and express joy-she loves those "bottomless" teapots). Mr NQN had a long black, which we had to chase but was brought to us quickly. All he had to say was "Yeah it was alright" which means I should just taste it for myself next time ;)
The B.R.T. was cut in half and it is a large spongey panini with a crispy outer and a soft inner-just like your favourite jaffle in a sandwich maker kind of texture. It is filled with a generous amount of bacon, tomato slices, rocket and aioli and it is utterly addictive, calories be damned!
The steak sandwich was on ciabatta bread with goat's curd, salsa verde, cucumber and tomato. Now this one was tricky. Because I do like a good steak sandwich but the very verdant salsa verde and salad was not what I expected. When I think of steak sandwiches I think of caramelised onion and maybe cheddar cheese and it's a rich sandwich. This one tasted very, very herby and it didn't quite work for me. The home made chips however were excellent and well seasoned and I could have had seconds of those.
There are muffins and sweets but we are full from the sandwiches to contemplate them so Mr NQN and I watch the waves crash wildly at Mona Vale beach. And like a never ending game of musical chairs, as soon as we get up another couple sit down at our table straight away.
So tell me Dear Reader, what your favourite type of shop? And does your partner share your enthusiasm for shopping?
9A Darley St East, Mona Vale NSW
Tel: +61 (02) 9999 2871