During the BC (before children) era, dining out involved spur-of-the moment decisions and a glass or three of wine.
We now make spur-of-the-afternoon decisions, and the beverage of choice is coffee – to help combat the sleep deprivation. Which is how we ended up at Driftwood Café in Narrabeen on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.
Mr. Kitchen Hand had taken the two Mini-
A few weeks later, after a dismal lunch at another café (that shall remain nameless) in the Narrabeen area, we stopped by Driftwood again for a consolatory afternoon tea. Although we only had coffees, the specials board caught my eye and I made a mental note to return another time.
Finally on a sunny weekend when all the planets aligned, we made it back for a proper meal. We decided on a Duck confit with Pappardelle and cherry tomato caper sauce (from the specials board), a Spanish omelette, and a Kid’s Bacon and Eggs on Toast.
Mr. Kitchen Hand headed off to the counter to order while the kids got stuck into the colouring-in sheets and fishing game provided by the cafe. Child-distracting activities at restaurants always score big with me, so this was a plus.
Then we waited for our food. And waited a little bit more. The café was busy but not overflowing and the staff seemed very efficient (bottle of water and glasses brought to our table as soon as we sat down), so I couldn’t quite understand the wait. But hey, it was a weekend, the sun was shining and we were all having a good time, so we didn’t let it bother us.
The wait gave me enough time to check out the little homewares section at the back of the cafe. It’s mostly beach-house stuff, but there’s also a small selection of kid-bling (pink hairclips etc) arranged at the perfect height to attract small eyes – and hands. This was not a plus. Luckily, the mini-critics were too engrossed in “fishing” to notice the display.
Our lunch finally arrived on massive plates. At first we thought they’d made a mistake with the mini-critics kid's bacon and eggs ($6.50) – the serve was enormous for a kid’s meal. Very crispy bacon (big plus), lots of fluffy scrambled eggs, white bread and even a small salad of tomato and snow pea shoots (very big plus).
My pappardelle ($18.50) also seemed like good value, as there was quite a lot of duck mixed within the pasta. The flavour started out quite delicate and unassuming, then I’d bite into little flavour “bombs” of cherry tomato and capers. The salty duck melded everything together. The pappardelle had a great texture and I thought it might have been house-made, but the waitress confirmed they order it in fresh from a pasta supplier. Mini-critic junior (a certified pasta fiend) helped me polish it off.Duck confit with pappardelle and cherry tomato caper sauce - what a mouthful!
Mr. Kitchen Hand’s omelette ($16.50) on the other hand, didn’t seem like the best value. It contained lots of tasty morsels within and, overall, had a light texture, but it didn’t feel right to pay $16.50 for an omelette considering that fresh pasta and duck could be had for not much more. To add insult to (slight) overcharging, the extra toast(sourdough) he’d been talked into while ordering came with a $5 price tag. So that came to $21.50 for a couple of slices of toast and an omelette – a bit steep in my book. (There is also a Sunday and Public holiday surcharge – but this is pretty standard now for many Sydney cafes.)
With lunch over, it was time for the long-awaited babycinos: chocolate powder, marshmallows AND hundreds and thousands - no wonder the mini-critics were impressed.
I had also ordered a special treat of my own – a tea ball. I’d spied tea-balls (green tea and jasmine) on our last visit and they really are fascinating to watch as they unfurl in a carafe of hot water. It’s like a tiny water ballet in slow motion, but they do end up looking like something out of Aliens. The actual tea that resulted tasted a bit underwhelming. I’m not sure if this was because it hadn’t steeped long enough or whether the flavour was too subtle for a whole carafe of water.
$15.50 for an iced coffee, a carafe of tea, two babycinos and a brownie.
There is a small selection of the usual café style sweet treats including biscuits, brownies, friands and fruit breads (banana, pear and raspberry etc) available for dessert.
The café is located on the corner of a relatively busy road, but the vibe inside was cruisy and low key. The customers seemed to be a mix of locals dropping in for coffee (the first name basis with the staff was a giveaway), and others like us - out for a leisurely weekend meal.
Overall, Driftwood scored quite a few plusses with us, so we’ll be back.
Another huge plus for Driftwood? It’s located directly across the road from Narrabeen beach and a decidedly kid-friendly grass area. This is where the mini-critics and Mr. Kitchen Hand head off to kick a ball, leaving me in peace to finish the rest of my tea. What better way to end an afternoon?
By the way, Driftwood Café is located right next door to Vespacific Café which the lovely Lorraine of NotQuiteNigella has
written about here.
Driftwood Café and Homewares
4/18 Ocean St Narrabeen NSW 2101
Phone/fax: (02) 9970 8911
Open 7 days: 6.30am – 4.30pm