Fringe is our first cafe and it throws up a couple of issues for us to resolve, because we are now entering the cafe-dense midlands of King Street. The first problem is that Fringe does not open at night – so do we go for lunch or breakfast? Secondly, what basis are we going to use for comparison with all the other cafes? I resolve that we shouldn’t think of them as problems, but as opportunities to make up more Rules. Making up Rules is fun, so here we go with the Cafe Suite of Rules:
Cafes are a breakfast outing.
At Cafes the order must include the Big/Full breakfast option.
There will be coffee.
There you have it, two points of comparison and a whole new time-slot to explore.
So on Sunday morning we take our grumbling tummies up the hill, anticipating the bacon and caffeine to come. We have Steve (of Tamana’s and Radio National fame, back in town for more parent-extraction duties and recreational questing), and the Stropolina (Thai Yindee), in tow this morning. We had assumed that 9am would be a reasonable hour, time for a few other punters to have started breakfasting, but not so late that we wouldn’t be to find a table. Around our place, the cafes open at 7am for the early rising dog-walkers and boot-campers, but when we got to Fringe they were still putting out the tables and chairs. “We’ll be ready in a moment,” they said as we stood dumbfounded on the sunny but mostly empty footpath. As we did a slow amble up to Missenden Road and back we mused that this was King Street after all, and different rules and time frames apply here. When we got back to Fringe there was already one table occupied so we didn’t feel too stupid or lonely or suburban.
I quickly checked the menu looking for the Big breakfast, and there it was, just above the Massive breakfast. Now what, I thought, is Massive the new Big? Will I have to change the rule before it has even been tried? No, I decided to give Big a chance – Massive has too many coronary connotations. We may be close to RPA but who wants to spend Sunday morning trying out their triage. Strop opts for an omelette and the rest of us have the big, with Steve asking for extra spinach. We all order juices.
Fringe is located on a street corner and has big windows that allow in plenty of light. This is good because the place has nothing else that could be mistaken for decor. There are a couple of big and decidedly dusty blackboards along one wall and a shambolic mixture of furniture, but nothing resembling style, not even grunge.
The juices arrive first and they are all huge and excellent. Then the plates arrive and they are huge too. I am glad that I didn’t go for the Massive – it would have defeated me, even if it didn’t kill me. Steve’s spinach fails to arrive at first, causing a moment of consternation, but it appears soon afterwards. Strop’s omelette is almost too big for her, but every time she says she can’t finish it, a bit more disappears, and in the end there is nothing left to bag up. The food is good quality, if fairly standard, cafe fare.
Our coffee order throws the Canadian waitress into disarray, and I am worried that we won’t get out of Newtown alive when Steve orders a quarter-strength flat white, but the Stropolina rescues our street cred by creatively ordering a long black over ice. “It’s an iced coffee without all the milky shit,” she explains helpfully.
Steve offers up the comment that the Kris Kristofferson song Sunday Morninin’ Comin’ Down would be a good soundtrack for our visit to the cafe, but you can’t take a reference to a song about a hangover seriously from a man who is drinking a quarter-strength flat white.
One thing about cafes: you don’t have to feel self conscious about making notes in a cafe in Newtown. Every second bastard is a poet or is working on a screenplay. And all the others have blogs.