Cindy Oura has a story that I’ve heard repeated many times over the last few years. Cindy spent eight years as a financial controller after gaining a degree in accountancy in the United States. When she took over Ground Caffe, Cindy was acting upon a desire to “jump out of corporate and do something more fulfilling.”
Like many tree-changing restaurateurs, Cindy reports the last eleven months have been a steep learning curve. “They need to love you first before they try new things,” said Cindy somewhat ruefully, before going on to detail her struggles converting this Lane Cove café from a bacon and egg roll shop, to something approximating her dream café.
Away from the hustle and bustle of Lane Cove's popular pedestrian mall, you'll find Ground Caffe next door to the Lane Cove Library. Unlike so many of the suburb's mall-side cafés, Ground Caffe actually gets the sun.
It's also dog-friendly, wheelchair-friendly and pram-friendly because the café's small indoor footprint is supplemented by a large, covered outdoor dining area.
Coffee was the first thing Cindy decided to fix in the café, which, formerly, was not known for either food or coffee. With onsite staff training from the roaster, Toby's Estate, you'll now find them putting out a well-made, robust Latte ($3.80). Coffee is supplemented by organic loose leaf teas by Rabbit Hole, like Ginger Snap ($4.50), with additional water offered by the staff if you feel like extracting a second pot.
Next Cindy set her sights on fixing the kitchen. Unhappy with the standard it was putting out, she fired everyone and worked in it herself for two months. The Healthy Breakfast ($17) is Cindy's own creation, though with a difficult pregnancy driving her out of the kitchen, it has been jazzed up by her new chef. The dish has everything you like about smashed avocado, teaming it with a poached egg on soy linseed toast, with the colourful additions of beetroot and pumpkin hummus, radishes, spinach, tomato and herbs. Toasted seeds and Danish feta help up the protein content, ensuring this vegetarian breakfast plate will keep you satisfied until lunchtime, when the bowl menu kicks in.
I rate the Vegan Poke Bowl ($18) at Ground Caffe, despite it having nothing to do with sliced or cut fish as the Hawaiian term 'poke' suggests. Lined with vivid beetroot hummus, the highlight is the moist, tasty house-made quinoa falafel. You'll find them hiding under dribbles of green goddess dressing inside a nest of top notch produce - cucumber, carrot, cherry tomatoes, sautéed kale and bountiful fresh herbs. Roasted sweet potato cubes and toasted seeds help to ensure this vegan lunch is filling.
But enough about the healthy stuff, let's talk about waffles! Chicken Waffles ($17) sandwiches some nicely spicy Cajun fried chook, pickles, cheese and a mountain of fresh 'slaw, inside two buttermilk waffles, then drizzles the lot with maple syrup. It looks decadent and it eats better than most renditions I've tried of this popular American dish, because the buttermilk waffles actually have flavour, and the clever arrangement ensures the upper waffle doesn't get soggy. You'll find your naughty breakfast on a separate, short menu of waffles that also includes some sweet renditions sure to be loved by the kids.
Shop 14, 24-28 Burns Bay Road, Lane Cove
Ph: (02) 9418 3099