In a historic cottage with a classic bullnose verandah, you’ll find Myalla Magic Café. It’s located on the sleepy main street of Bulahdelah, a town whose name stems from a Worimi word, meaning meeting of the waters. Bulahdelah is the gateway to the Myall Lakes, and used to be a popular stop-off for Sydneysiders heading north. These days with a highway bypass in place, visitors seem less frequent.
I'm dubious because the spattering of online reviews talk more about the clean bathroom than anything anyone has eaten, but my mother-in-law is enthusiastic about their advertised bacon and vegetable soup. The emphasis on clean loos makes more sense when we venture under the wooden fretwork, and paintwork that has seen better days, to find no diners inside under the age of fifty. With staff looking disinterested, we seat ourselves in a garish room where silver-painted pressed tin walls and ceilings compete with terribly amateur art. They’ve gotten creative on one wall, where magenta paint is half scrubbed back to white, leaving the pattern of the pressed tin – it’s actually an interesting effect.
Turns out the staff were disinterested because it’s counter service only. From the dated menu of melts, burgers, wraps and sangers, we opt for the safety and familiarity of a Steak Burger ($15.50). Presented in an old-fashioned flat roll, it's a thin, chewy piece of untrimmed, cheap steak with the expected condiments – caramelised onion, lettuce, tomato, beetroot and barbecue sauce. It’s served with a handful of pale, undercooked chips.
By the time we place our order, the soup of the day has been switched out for something different. Luckily my mother-in-law is reasonably happy with her tureen of Pea and Ham Soup ($10.50). She devours it completely, despite remarking that it's overly salty.
While I’m generally a fan of avoiding big chains and other fast food highway rubbish, I can’t say I found the magic in the Myalla Magic Café. With the Bulahdelah bypass reducing the number of incidental visitors to this riverside town, they might have to lift their game to survive as anything more than a well-reviewed loo.
Myalla Magic Cafe
84 Stroud Street, Bulahdelah
Ph: (02) 4997 4900