After a week of eating out on a short break in the Northern Rivers, I was ready for some simpler food. Spying a sign to The Edible Garden Café Restaurant on the road to Lismore, I was instantly intrigued. There’s nothing I like better than a short distance between garden and plate. Barrels of bright blooms herald the entranceway to a small courtyard of al fresco tables.
The restaurant itself is a large corrugated iron shed with exposed wooden beams and long farmhouse tables.
On the counter, a gorgeous old cash register immediately catches my eye.
It’s a surprisingly large interior – more designed around functions than café guests. A group of golfing seniors illustrate this point, with long tables of cackling women getting raucous on bottles of BYO wine. We take a window seat as far away from them as possible, achieving both a slight breeze and views into the leafy green garden.
From the short, six-item luncheon menu we decide to share Hearty Gourmet Sausages ($17.50) and the Signature Pumpkin Salad ($17.50) to get the most out of the garden-fresh produce.
My always hungry dining companion asked to add on a side of Bread ($7) without realising that an avalanche of food was about to descend. It arrives on a monstrous square slate with green olives, olive tapenade, olive oil, dukkah and fresh tomatoes.
Presented on a long, platter-sized bit of slate, the signature salad features cumin and maple syrup roasted butternut pumpkin with baby spinach and other leaves, spiced nuts, crumbled goats’ cheese and lashings of fig balsamic dressing under scattered edible blooms. It’s generosity overload, with way more salad than one person could handle.
We’re almost thankful the country-style pork, apple and sultana sausages come on a plate, albeit one full to the brim with seasonal roasted vegetables. There are green beans, pumpkin, onions, zucchini as well as potato mash and a rich red wine jus. Nothing is too cheffy - it's all cooked the way your grandparents would relate to.
We take a walk around the property to work off this feast, which came to the princely sum of $42. With artfully placed saddles and carriages, it’s more wedding function centre than it is working garden – we struggle to find any vegetable beds at all. However it’s hard to complain after eating such a generous lunch of simple, honest food, served up at a reasonable price.
The Edible Garden Cafe Restaurant
12 Converys Lane, Wollongbar
Ph: (02) 6628 8994