D.A.R.E. – or Delicious and Responsible Eating - is a quirky and idiosyncratic place that is really reflective of the owner, Ms. Lee Freeman, and her concerns. Her Maroubra café is a continuation from a business she began in The Rocks. In its former location, D.A.R.E. was a long-term, established small business of eighteen years, with a strong local following of people who worked in the area.
Unfortunately the revolving door bureaucrats at the landlord - Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority (SHFA) – proved too hard to deal with, and refused to renew Freeman's lease. As Freeman explains it, her neighbour, the Swagman’s Post Courtyard Café (another long-term business in The Rocks that was run by two Armenian brothers) was lost in the same way.
Losing the best kebab, and the best under ten-buck lunch in The Rocks, has of course been Maroubra’s gain. The second generation D.A.R.E. is haphazardly decorated with a homely amount of clutter.
There are quotes scribbled on the walls; an old-fashioned black telephone mounted on the wall; plants growing in cups; old photos in mismatched frames; and a lounge room type set-up in the rear.
You can peruse the menu scrawled chalkboard-style on the walls, or in printed form.
Campos coffee is a good place to begin, as they manage to extract robust flavour and balanced bitterness from the beans across both a Latte ($4) and a Flat White ($4).
From a little green-tiled juice station half way down the café emerges a steady flow of freshly squeezed juices. It lures me into a frothy, kale-topped Morning Boost ($8.50) that makes a healthy collection of carrot, celery, ginger, beetroot and apple into a likeable drink.
“I’m a gluten free vegan,” Freeman explains, by way of introducing her menu, “so I like to keep it as clean and as natural as possible.” This notion is applied as far as possible on the generously proportioned Big Brekkie ($21.90), with organic bacon proving too pricy to be viable at the price point. You will find organic, lean beef sausages, free-range eggs whatever way you please (we chose scrambled), an oven roasted tomato, sliced mushrooms and crisp sweet potato chips made without using a deep fryer. While my dining companion was slightly disappointed Freeman’s no “preservatives and sweeteners” stance meant chilli sauce was out, he did get a tiny pot of chilli flakes.
The Avocado Smash ($14.90) here is nicely presented and filling, whether you opt to add Bacon ($5) or Smoked Salon ($5), or just consume it plain. The toast is smeared with a generous amount of smashed avocado and grilled haloumi under a pair of poached eggs. The dish is seasoned with za’atar, drizzled with pomegranate molasses, garnished with strawberries and surrounded by scattered edible flowers and mixed leaves.
In the glass front counter you’ll find an array of bought-in croissants and house-made treats.
Grazing across a selection of Banana and Mango Bread ($5); a sugar and dairy-free Big Slice ($5) made from muesli, peanut butter and dates; and a Raw Cube ($4) that didn't quite grab me, nothing is overly sweet.
And for a final feel-good moment at this locally-focused café, as we leave Freeman is busy collecting up every bit of plastic to put it in a bag to take to Coles for their plastic recycling program. It’s nice to see someone doing what they can to make their business contribute to people and the planet in a more positive way.
D.A.R.E. Delicious and Responsible Eating
765A Anzac Parade, Maroubra
Ph: (02) 8540 2936