Toowoomba is the home to a large number of cafes, and choosing between them can be difficult for an outsider. Housed in an old ball bearing factory, Ortem exudes the feeling of a likeable community hub.
With games like spot the LEGO figurine played out across the café walls and fixtures, it’s clear they’re not prioritising being trendy over more simple fun. Throw in options to share ($1.50) a meal, or have a mini portion for two-thirds of normal price, and you have a café that seems squarely aimed at pleasing the locals. It’s a pleasant change from simply documenting the most ridiculous excesses for an Instagram feed designed to woo in the tourist trade.
My dining companion likes variety, so he was delighted to order the mini Big Breakfast ($22 full-size, $14.70 mini), which sounds like an oxymoron, but actually worked very well! He got to pick his way through a moderate amount of smoked bacon, free-range scrambled eggs, mushrooms, a single pork and fennel sausage, half a roasted tomato, a hash cake, and a single slice of toasted cape seed Vienna bread.
Fritters ($17.80 full-size, $11.75 mini) reduced the triple stack of zucchini and corn fritters by one. The resulting dish still looked impressive, with two substantial fritters sitting under a poached egg and a garnish of baby spinach leaves, bacon jam, and Persian fetta, scattered crunchy sweet potato crisps.
The Bruno Rossi Coffee got a bit lost in my milky Latte ($3.90), so if I returned again, I’d definitely ask for strong. And just like the food menu, your beverage is fully customisable by size – enjoy it by mega, mug or, in my case, simple cup.
15 Railway Street, Toowoomba
Ph: (07) 4632 0090