Monday, January 11, 2010
Sometimes you can't reduce why you like something down to one particular reason. Often, you end up overcrowding your explanation with lots of adjectives – the same way you do when justifying a crush to friends (where you talk someone up as "funny, smart, cute, talented, thoughtful" etc etc, piling on the praise until your friends understandably roll their eyes or laugh).
And so, that's kind of the case with our latest cafe preoccupation – Clover in Annandale. Our list of pro-Clover points is a little long, so here's a trimmer version of why we like this place so much …
First, there's the decor, which is an eccentric and cute jumble of fixtures and furniture. There are kid-friendly teapots filled with crayons and enough mobiles to distract a child from any grand plans of havoc-wreaking. Planter boxes line the entrance; inside, benches and tables sport the pastel palette of '60s girl-pop vinyl covers. The wall cabinet – with multiple die for handles – is full of oddities while cleverly hiding the electricity box behind.
Of course, a cafe can't do much spell-casting if the menu isn't very entrancing, and the food at Clover rightly mixes the comforting and familiar with fresh twists.Baked Beans and Chilli Labne ($10) adds a yogurty tang and spice hit to the breakfast staple while Goat's Cheese and Pesto Omelette with Baked Mushrooms ($10) is a smart rewrite of the classic egg-pan dish. There's also Haloumi, Roast Eggplant and Watermelon Salad ($10), and Open Melt with Prosciutto, Mozarella, Organic Eggs and Tomato Relish ($8), the latter quickly becoming a multiple-order favourite with Will, who declares it a "fancy" version of bacon and eggs. The vego choices are substantial, too. It's enough to make Clover our new breakfast/brunch-going favourite.
The Arabian-Style Bircher Muesli probably will tip you off to the fact that this new cafe is a venture involving two familiar faces from Clipper in Glebe. And like that ever-popular joint, the menu is surprisingly budget-reasonable. Most dishes are $10 or under, fresh juices are $4.50 and while the conventional post-bill experience involves the shock of forking out too much – at Clover, you often feel like you've underpaid, 'cos it is rather decently-priced.
My only (tiny) gripe about Clover is its reliance on disposable cups – all beverage-sipping unavoidably involves plastic being sent to landfill, although at least the juices come in biodegradable containers, I suppose.
That said, can I swing back and give more credit to the clever furniture? The cool wall cabinet was custom-built locally by Three of A Kind (motto: "butt ugly blokes building handsome furniture for beautiful people", phone number: 0409 555 173). Run by Karl and Geoff, who handmake everything, this small company's inventive use of recycled timber can also be seen in the angular-shaped "table/seats" that are dotted near the cafe's entrance. Clover co-owner Adriano demonstrated for us how this cheeky all-purpose piece of furniture works – you can sit on it, use it as a table, link it up with a twin unit and create an extended bench, and so on. Maybe use it for slightly violent means, too, but I don't think that was in the original grand plan.
For a place that's only been open for a few weeks, Clover has been packed on each visit we've made. All the reasons above second this cafe's appeal – the attraction of this joint comes in multiples.
Clover, 78 Booth Street, Annandale (no phone number at last check, but opening hours are Tues-Sun, 6am-4pm).