Enjoy this classic cottage cafe with lake and park views
The Curator's Collective is perfectly located in the centre of in Queens Park in Moonee Valley (between Essendon and Moonee Ponds). Housed in an old cottage (standing since 1896), it has atmosphere in spades, and on a sunny day it's an absolutely beautiful place to be. The cottage commands a view of the lake, and is surrounded on its three other sides by manicured gardens.
The menu held great promise for my gluten-free requirements, and the waitress was very helpful with making sure there was no stray gluten lurking in my favoured options.
Having ordered, we enjoyed the view for a while. As our stomachs rumbled, we wondered where the food was. Then we thought, surely, we'd been forgotten. About half an hour after ordering, I went to check, and was assured our lunch was on its way. Ten minutes later, we got our food.
I went for the daily special, which was lamb ribs rubbed in dukkah with a side salad of pear, radish and cucumber. Mum opted for the avocado, poached egg and feta on toast.
The lamb fell off the bone, and was so tasty – dukkah and lamb is something I need to have more of in my life! And the salad was a perfect complement. The only drawback was the portion size. I'm not a HUGE eater, but I do like my food, and I was starving after the wait. While I know that this was probably a 'just right' amount of food, I was left wanting more, partly because it was so tasty and partly because I was still hungry. Mum very much enjoyed the avocado, egg and feta on toast, but was left with the same problem – there just wasn't enough of it. And for $16 each, we felt a little dissatisfied.
As we sat, we watched other meals come out, which all appeared quite small. This isn't a bad thing in itself – it's just something to keep in mind. This is a great place for a nice, light, healthy lunch in beautiful surrounds. Don't come expecting a big feed, and if you're hungry, order two meals.
I was impressed by all the gluten free options, and I loved the atmosphere. The interior of the café is almost as pretty as the outside, and they sell a range of local preserves and the like. We did get to enjoy a coffee while we waited, and it was delicious – smooth and flavoursome. In the future, I think I'll come back to have coffee and cake, with a book. It's a beautiful atmosphere, so I would definitely give it another go.
Once you've enjoyed the cafe offerings, a stroll in the park and around the lake is a must. The park is a lovely size for an easy walk, and is only a few minutes' walk from the main street of Moonee Ponds.
Paths take you through the gardens, and in the centre you'll find the lake.
There are some beautiful plants around the garden, and plenty of large green spaces to laze on a sunny day. If you ever plan to be in Moonee Valley, take an hour to enjoy the offerings of this beautiful park.