In so many cafes and restaurants, the courtyard is an afterthought; merely a space where a few wrought iron tables are placed, perhaps a half-dead plant in a pot. So it is refreshing to happen upon a place like Canvas where the courtyard is a destination in itself. In fact, I don't actually know if there is an 'inside' at all.
From the outside, only a small sign points the way to the 'café' but once you step inside the courtyard, the temperature drops as tall trees shade you from the sun, a leafy garden potentially hides fairies, and large umbrellas give a relaxed seaside feel, without ever actually seeing the sea.
Open every day for breakfast and lunch, Canvas offers a small but interesting menu. A Spanish Omelette with chorizo, red onion, olives, tomato and salsa ($18) or perhaps Eggs Royale with citrus cured salmon, poached eggs, buttered spinach, sherry hollandaise and sumac ($20). Perhaps you would prefer homemade waffles ($16) or a granola sundae ($10).
The basque hashed potato, poached eggs and very crispy bacon
I ordered the basque hashed potatoes, poached eggs, sherry hollandaise and machengo ($20) with a side of bacon.
Machengo is a type of Spanish cheese made with sheep milk and to be honest I couldn't taste it at all, but it was otherwise a generous and tasty dish, beautifully presented in a miniature frypan on a wooden board. The cutlery came out in a blue metal bucket. Quirky and entirely right for the surrounds.
From 11.30am the breakfast menu turns into a lunch tapas menu, along with some 'signature' dishes which are available all day such as the Red Shakshuka ($18) which is two poached eggs in an eight hour tomato sauce, olives, bread and garlic butter. The Red Shakshuka has been voted by Gourmet Traveller as one of Australia's best breakfasts.
If you believe in fairies, they probably would live in the grounds of the Arts Centre
There are a number of small dishes to share ($10-$12) including pork belly, sweetcorn patties or citrus cured salmon and larger dishes ($20-$25) including seafood, lambs brain and hamburgers. One suspects though, it is no ordinary hamburger.