Time seems to stand still at the Cottage Garden Nursery. When you close the door to the street behind you, it's like you've entered another world. It's slightly more humid, the air smells fresher, and though I know it's just the power of suggestion, I swear I can hear the sounds of the rainforest.
Okay, let's start with the facts. Cottage Garden Nursery can be found in East Brisbane (corner of Edgar and Stanley Street East). The building houses a nursery, a florist, an antique store, and a cafe. Before you visit you might like to check out the Inspiration Corner on their website, which provides garden and design advice.
Green thumbs will head straight for the nursery, where you can browse plants, trees, seedlings and herbs, plus pots and outdoor furniture. If you've killed every plant you've ever owned, then skip this step and head for the florist to purchase a pre-arranged bouquet or have one custom made; or, peruse the antique store which stocks three traders specialising in shabby chic, European antiques and jewellery and china.
But all of this is just icing on the cake for me – I've really come for the decadent offerings at Gillian's Garden Cafe.
This hidden gem is a kind of shabby chic, kind of gourmet, totally atmospheric eatery located inside the nursery. The cafe is like an anchor spot, tying everything together; it uses the gorgeous view of the nursery to its advantage, and is filled with furniture from the antique store.
I'd heard good things about the menu and wasn't disappointed. This isn't a latte and toasty place – selections like duck liver pate, roasted quail and sand crab lasagne make decision making incredibly difficult. I had the duck and shitake pie which was delicious, but I still wonder if I should have had the crab lasagne...
All food is cooked fresh in the kitchen from produce sourced locally. Gillian's Cafe serves breakfast and lunch and is open seven days a week, from 8.30am until 2.30pm. BYO wine.