There is plenty to see and do in the Blue Mountains, but eventually you'll have to sit down and re-fuel somewhere, and to make it not only a nutritious, but a memorable experience try The Common Ground Café on the main strip of Katoomba Street, not too far from the train station.
The café is reminiscent of an elaborate tree house or a hobbit's little hidey-hole, with little nooks and crannies functioning as cozy tables made from hand-crafted wood. The waiters all look like human sized gnomes sans their caps (no offense intended!), with long beards, checkered cotton shirts, tree-logger pants and boots.
The Common Ground Café has had its share of media-related controversy as it is run by a religious community, whose mysteriously stand-offish ways freak some people out. Do not be deterred by that, as no one will try to convert you and the food is truly delicious. If you are curious, just ask them. The community opts for a sustainable, self-sufficient lifestyle and their respectful Earth-oriented philosophy translates into food infused with quality and freshness. Yes, they make their own (fantastic!) tofu. No, you don't have to eat it, as there are plenty of straight-laced carnivore-oriented meal options ($4-$18.50) on the menu as well, such as grilled chicken salad, chicken and barramundi burgers and roast beef sandwiches served on steaming wholemeal bread, baked by the café staff themselves.
The smoothies are just divine, but the yerba mate chai is something else – light as well as energising. South American mate is somewhat of a staple here, as it comes included not only with smoothies, but as an option for both hot and cold drinks, so you might just get hooked on this aromatic tea! Vegans and vegetarians will not starve (see the tofu plug above), as even the nachos are basically vegetarian, as are several sandwich, melt, soup and yummy pancake selections, not to mention desserts.
Actually, speaking of desserts ($1.50-$4.50), they deserve their own little paragraph. There is a gluten-free macadamia and apple crumble, scrumptious cream cheese carrot cake, a "vegan ball" which admittedly deserves a better name, coz it's just delicious, a variety of cookies and slices, plus lovely ice cream - also made here from scratch, like everything else!
If you manage to drop by for breakfast with a whole day of hiking ahead, the Amazon Energy drink ($4.50), which comes pre-loaded with everything from vitamins to ginseng and spirulina, is highly recommended, together with your Hearty Mountain Breakfast ($13.50), which consists of free range scrambled eggs, organic sourdough toast, a baked tomato, four beef chipolata sausages and…sprouts. Getting hungry yet?
One drawback of this fab place are the predictably constant crowds and the understandably slow service as a result. Then again the food is worth waiting for, and the character of this little café is quite remarkable, so no complaints here.
If Katoomba is too far off for you, you can also try the food at the local Rozelle branch of Common Ground, located at 586 Darling Street.
After reading your article i visited common ground cafe on Thursday and it was fantastic! I loved the atmosphere and decor, and the food was absolutely delicious. I had a tofu salad with their wholemeal sourdough garlic bread, it was amazing, the tofu, satay sauce, roasted capsicum and eggplant were delicious. My mum had some herbal mate green tea that cleared her cold and pancakes with berries and yoghurt for only $4.50. The staff were friendly, i was interested in what they call their Community, and their worship service on Friday nights. Very interesting place, definitely worth a visit.
By Andrea Orchard - senior reviewer Saturday, 26th of February @ 07:25 am
The Common Ground bread is certainly worth a look. The Fruit of the Forest Sourdough is unbelieveable. With huge chunks of dried figs, apricots and everything in between. It makes wonderful toast.