Olinda Cafe and Produce store

Posted on July 21, 2014

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I have a love hate relationship with winter.

I hate catching a cold/flu. I hate the need to wear multiple pieces of clothing out only to shed it all off and lug it around as soon as you step inside anywhere. I hate waking up and going home in the dark and feeling like there isn’t time for anything. I hate that it’s practically impossible to host outdoor events/functions.

But I do love winter clothing. I love scarves and beanies. I love being wrapped in blankets on the couch. I love fireplaces and going on long drives. Well technically my enjoyment of long drives isn’t limited to the winter months, but there is a certain charm to experiencing the bitter coldness of the great outdoors.

That was my long prelude to say that I drove up Mount Dandenong recently. For no other reason than just because. Nearly every time I visit Mt Dandenong I end up eating a pie at Pie in the Sky (43 Olinda-Monbulk Road, Olinda VIC) because I do enjoy their award winning pies. But this time, observing the long wait for a table, we decided it was probably a time to change things up a little. With no phone reception, we couldn’t do the usual quick scan on Urbanspoon for recommendations. So the only thing left to do was to drive somewhere with reception! Ha, I do jest. We did no such thing. Rather, we went for a stroll down the street and took a punt on a random dining venue. And thus Olinda Cafe and Produce store (17 Olinda-Monbulk Road, Olinda VIC) was decided on.

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It’s a fairly large venue, spanning across 3 store fronts. The interior is quite simple, polished floorboards, a crackling fire place and a few pieces of art dotted around the exposed brick walls. It was very busy on that Saturday lunch we visited but the staff were very attentive and effective, finding us a table in under 5 minutes. The service model is order and pay at the bar. Whilst in line and logged onto their free wifi network, curiousity led me to check Olinda Cafe and Produce’s Urbanspoon rating. I was dismayed to learn it only had a 66% approval rating. And upon reading some online comments, I’d even contemplated leaving. Good thing I didn’t, and it’s a good reminder of why you shouldn’t always dismiss venues with lower Urbanspoon ratings.

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We’d missed the breakfast menu (finishes at 11:30am), but I still needed my morning java even if it would be served with lunch. The cafe latte ($3.80) was fairly decent. Not the best I’ve had, but no complaints either.

DSC_0017The chicken pesto pizza ($13.50) was one of the specials of the day and this was perfectly tasty. The base had a decent smear of pesto, good amount of chicken and cherry tomatoes, gooey cheese and a healthy mound of rocket leaves. This was filling enough, though I think the serving could have afforded to be a touch bigger.

DSC_0019The zucchini and haloumi fritters with apple salad ($15.50) was a stand out. The fritters were wonderfully moreish; crisp exterior with a warm almost oozy centre. The flavours of the salad complemented the fritters well. In fact, I like it so much I’m making a mental note to replicate that salad at some stage. It was a perfect combination of bitter leaves, sharp tangy vinegarette, sweet apple slices and fresh cucumber. Yum. Again the only criticism is the serving size. Given the petite size of the fritters, there really should have been 5 on the plate. Also from a food presentation point of view, isn’t it common knowledge nowadays that odd number configurations are more aesthetically pleasing?

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For those sweet inclined, the counter had a pretty impressive variety of desserts/cakes on offer. Despite my minor grumbling of serving sizes, we were quite sated and did not succumb to the temptations on offer. Perhaps next time. (Photo quality not that great because of the extreme back lighting and I only had my phone on me.)

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It could be that we happened to order well, or maybe our expectations were slightly lowered by the online reviews, but honestly the food and drink hit the mark. We were perfectly content customers. Service was quite fantastic. In spite of it being in the midst of their lunch hour rush, service was quick and friendly. Overall a very pleasing experience. One I may not have chosen if I’d seen some of the criticisms of it online prior. Which goes to show, sometimes it’s a good idea to ignore the screen and let the randomness of life just be.

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