Standing before the bold steel grey facade of Dear Delicious, we couldn't help our smiles at the name that had a pleasant and palatable sound to it. The cheery yellow doors and windows bellowed a metaphorical welcome above the roar of the super windy Sunday and the whoosh of the trains from Dulwich Hill station. Inside, the block-shaped cafe bustled with as much amicable action. We are given the option of sitting inside or grabbing ourselves a much-relaxed garden seating at the back. Given the windy outside, we opt for a cosy little table by the mellow yellow window.
James, the soft-spoken owner-cum-manager of the establishment takes our order from the two-paged menu which gets a revision pertaining to the season. The order having been taken care of, I couldn't help but give myself a tour of the garden. It is vibrant with herbs, flowers, ferns and creepers, a children's play nook and a seating arrangement that is more casual and comfortable than I had expected, a lounge in a natural set up. The indoor dining area which initially had appeared rather impromptu with a lack of fancy decor, an open kitchen, well-stocked counter, patches of exposed brickwork and framed quotations making a proxy presence instead of any ornamentation, now makes sense. The plain and rustic warmth of the interior is a good contrast against the cooler shades of the garden. As if to match up to it, the menu proposes green crunch louder than anything else. Overall, the eatery is a welcoming retreat to dine in with family and friends.
By the time I am done with the garden, the first round of our order has been served - a citrusy, light and refreshing cold pressed SOME…THING (the ingredients in this weird yet interestingly named juice mix are orange juice, watermelon, lemon, pear, apple, ginger and mint) for me and a dense, luxurious raw blend of banana, acai, strawberry, organic honey, and yoghurt for my husband. We are instantly in love with them: mine, a perfect head start to a warm day; his, a fulfilling and time-saving breakfast choice. Though they offer coffee and a choice of alcoholic beverages, the major part of the drinks menu, composed mainly of healthy and detoxifying drinks, seems straight out of a carefully penned dietitian's notebook. The prices on this page range between $3.80 (for a small coffee) - $15 (for cocktails).
The second round includes two very distinctive looking dishes and desserts. The Dearly Dirty Eggs, which I had ordered, hardly has any inkling of the dirt factor. The plate rather looks like an artist's palette, lush with chewy black beans, fresh green Thai basil, chilli, cucumber, golden brown thick slab of fish croquette, sweetcorn and crispy-edged fried eggs, with a smattering of a lovely tamarind lime mayo. The components not only add colour but also amplify the variation in textures of this simple yet sophisticated dish. I love every bit of it.
The other dish is my husband's Soft Fishy Tortillas - barramundi fillets laid out on beds of soft purple tortillas and prettified with spiced corn, avocado, tomato, purple slaw, jalapeno sauce and leafy greens. Far from being fishy, it tastes fabulous. At $18.95, with three tortillas per serving, this is quite a wholesome dish. Most items fall within the bracket of $16.95 and $19.95, except for sides and kids breakfast choices.
Two big cubes, each of a berry ripe cake and a lemon berry cake, constitute our dessert. In case of the former, the tough chocolate skin intensifies the lighter notes of the berry flavoured ganache, while the latter is denser with a sweet base and a tangy top. All the while that we sat there enjoying our brunch, there was one common thing we both factored in as a testimonial to a cafe with a good record, the tables surrounding us never ran customer-dry for more than a couple of minutes.
Plenty of roadside parking, proximity from the train station, a nearby park (Jack Shanahan Park), make 245 Wardell Rd, Dulwich Hill a favourable spot for food business. But above all, it is the embracing ambience, affable service and delightful garden fresh menu that device Dear Delicious into a customer darling.