Douglas has been a professional food writer since 1986. He is also an award-winning actor and director in Community Theatre and has been for many years. His blog may be found at: www.urbaneguerilla.wordpress.com
Published October 29th 2012
Take It, Leave It, But You'll Enjoy It
For the first time ever I feel myself in a most ambivalent mood regards writing a review – what Les Dawson used to describe the sight of your mother-in-law driving over a cliff in your new car.
I am torn between the altruism of telling you about a great new eatery I have found, and the selfishness of wanting to keep the knowledge to myself and not have you all rush along there and spoil it.
I am not alone in this. The cafe has been going for twenty-one years in Midland and I had never heard of it before a friend mentioned it in passing. While we were talking about it, four more friends chipped in while walking past saying how good it was, how original it is, and expressing a certain amount of disbelief that I didn't know about the Café Mueller.
Therefore the family and I hied ourselves down to Café Mueller to dine – after three attempts to get in because it was booked solid.
The Café is a converted home... well, not that much converted really, just tables and chairs put into every living room. No two tables and chairs were the same, ranging from elderly bentwood to Rattan and cane chairs and the odd desk chair pressed into service.
[ADVERT]Every available inch of wall space has been covered with art – prints, originals and photos, including some beautiful collotypes from the 1800's and some truly staggering daubs from amateurs, all higgledy-piggledy together with a devastating array of bric-a-brac from everywhere and every age spread over every flat surface.
For people like me who enjoy, even love, clutter and busyness and eclectic curiosities, the Café Mueller is an intriguing paradise of interest.
The owner, Carl, welcomed us with a warm faintly Germanic accent and encouraged us to sit wherever we liked. We picked a busy room of four tables with several diners who were obviously regulars, as they showed no surprise that there is one entrée, one main course and one dessert. There is an option, of course – take it or leave it.
We took it and were very glad that we did. Entrée was a rich vegetable chicken soup with home-made rough wholemeal bread. The soup was glorious, just like granny used to make on her good days. Wholesome, flavourful and rich and the bread was supremely fresh, obviously made that day.
Main course was pork schnitzel, a green salad, slightly over-dressed, and some roughly smashed potatoes supremely well-seasoned with garlic and pepper. I would have liked a little sauce or gravy, but that's not the Teutonic way. The pork was beautifully tender, the crumbed surface just right.
The sweet course was double-baked cheesecake, very like the South African Melktert of my youth and delicious without being overly sweet, accompanied by some very superior coffee.
That was our meal at about $35 a head. Your meal may well be different, depending on what impulse moves Chef on any given day. The schnitzels are very popular, so that's a good bet, but everything else – who knows, it's a delicious lottery.
Café Mueller does no advertising, relying only on word of mouth. The fact that they have been in business for twenty-one years tells you what people have been saying. All I hope is that you don't all rush down there and spoil it for those of us who know about Midland's best kept secret.
Very highly recommended indeed, providing you don't go telling too many friends.
Douglas, I really enjoyed reading this. Your writing is very entertaining. I have a few eateries I have been forbidden (by my better half) to write articles about. He says it's already so hard to get a table, why make it any worse :)