Outfield is a cafe and picnic park in Yeo Park in Ashfield. Pull up a chair or grab one of the picnic blankets supplied and order your food and drink and enjoy the outdoor setting especially if it's a sunny day!
When Valentina suggested that we go to Outfield I jumped at the chance as I had driven past it a few months prior and it looked busy and popular. The café takes up the space of a former childhood health centre in Ashfield. Outfield cafe was opened by Caleb and Belinda Maynard in April 2019, Outfield being a natural choice for the name as it is located in the Outfield of Yeo Park.
When they first opened, the offering was quite different to how it is today. It was table service and less casual but due to COVID they found their niche to become a casual picnic eatery. When the government announced that it was picnics only for outdoor socialising the business increased exponentially over two months. "We went holy shit they've nailed our business model! Out of nowhere we had all this business. We got rid of all the china plates, glassware and knifeware and brought in camp cups, melamine camping plates - you can borrow them to sit in the park," says Caleb.
Food that you can eat without cutlery and a serve-yourself model model has stuck and helps in times of staff shortages and has resonated with the local customers. They now also added a range of garden games like dominoes, hoopla, finska and giant Lego bricks. They've had bands play in the park as entertainment on occasion. There are plans to introduce a deck and a system where people can order online from their picnic blanket to avoid queuing.
While there are still indoor tables the best spot on a sunny day is either on one of their outdoor tables overlooking the park below or relaxing on one of their picnic blankets. The clientele is a cross section of the neighbourhood so it's mixed but with a lot of families with young kids as the picnic setting and sprawling park appeals with the cricket pitch and games scattered about.
The menu offers around nine selections plus a daily special. There is also a shop with a huge range of jams, pickles and relishes all made in-house with some featuring in dishes on the menu. The impetus behind these preserves was keeping their staff occupied during La Nina. "We got busy pickling as we didn't want to cut any shifts during La Nina," says Caleb. They also do catering for picnics. Ordering is done at the counter and service is friendly. All of the items are served on enamel ware and they write your name and order on the side of a cup. You take a seat and they'll call out your name and then bring the drinks and food to you.
Chai Latte Almond $5
I start with a chai latte. I sometimes order this with almond milk and they vary a lot but this is an excellent almond chai latte. Caleb used to work for Stitch coffee previously and the chai is made with a Stitch chai tea blend.
Halloumi Burger $14
I start with the halloumi burger - sometimes I find places can be stingy on the halloumi but this is just the right amount. There's also purple cabbage, a sunny side fried egg and chilli sauce as well as some pumpkin jam on it. I love the sweetness of the pumpkin jam that balances the salty halloumi well and it makes this very moreish.
Mushroom Toastie $16
I also ordered a mushroom toastie to take home to Mr NQN. It is sliced, roasted mushrooms, pepita butter, greens and pesto on toasted rye bread. It's a solid vegetarian offering but if I were to pick between this or the halloumi burger it's the burger that is a neck ahead because of that pumpkin jam.
The following day I return with Mr NQN and Teddy and we grab one of the picnic blankets. I order the almond chai latte again and Mr NQN has a latte which is by Stitch coffee which they use for all of their milk based coffees. For black coffees they rotate their suppliers to keep things interesting for customers.
Bacon and Egg Roll $14
I coveted the bacon and egg roll after seeing Valentina and her friend Penny order it the day before. It has just the right amount of crispy bacon, a fried egg, a crisp hash brown and a slathering of their Howzat Onion Jam which brings this together perfectly.
The Nonno Tony $14
I couldn't resist the special because I loved the sound of it. It's an Italian roll that is crusty on the outside but soft on the inside. It's absolutely smothered with a thick layer of creamy, herbed ricotta, ham, marinated artichokes and spicy sopressa salami. I lift the top layer off and eat it like a luscious tartine.
Reuben Toastie $16
We also have the Reuben toastie a very solid Reuben offering with pastrami, pickles, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and a creamy Russian dressing on perfectly toasted rye bread.
Afterwards we get up to go to the car but Teddy Elliott refuses to go until he has had his walk in the park!
So tell me Dear Reader, would you choose to sit on a picnic blanket or at a table?
This meal was independently paid for.
230 Victoria St, Ashfield NSW 2131
Tuesday to Friday 7am-2pm
Saturday and Sunday 8am-2pm