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Published August 27th 2013
Seeing is believing
On the quieter end of Hutt Street, away from the hustle and bustle of the restaurant and cafe scene, lies Experience Cafe. Opening its doors in December last year, Experience Cafe is an ethical, not for profit cafe that is making a positive difference to people's lives.
Offering work experience mainly to youths, refugees and migrants, the cafe has allowed these individuals to interact with the local community, building their confidence and cultivating within them a sense of belonging. In addition it gives refugees and migrants a chance to practice their English language skills. Working at the cafe has led to paid work for some and empowered others to further their skills through tertiary studies.
Originally opened only during weekdays serving up simple meals such as curries and soups, Experience Cafe embarked on a weekend trade of breakfast and brunch a fortnight ago. With brunch in mind, I visited the cafe for the first time.
Unlike parts of Adelaide city where free parking is almost unheard of, Experience Cafe is located in front of some one hour free parking bays. Housed within an old villa with outdoor seating under verandah, a large purple "OPEN" banner welcomed me in. Upon entry I was greeted warmly by Nadine Silverberg who manages the cafe on the weekend.
Nadine herself is a volunteer at Experience Cafe and created the weekend menu with her own recipes. Items on the specials board continue to evolve and are set to become regulars if proven popular. Where possible, locally sourced produce are used to prepare the meals. Nadine aspires to operate her own food business one day and gaining experience at Experience Cafe is a stepping stone to help her on her way to achieve this.
The main dining area was nice and cosy. Beside the bay window was a lounge area where I could see myself relaxing in the couch armed with a good read and a pot of fairtrade organic loose leaf tea on the side.
Decorating the wall was Aboriginal artwork sourced directly from the indigenous artists themselves. Admiring the striking pieces, I discovered the paintings on display were available for purchase through Indigenu Art with proceeds going to assist in closing the gap.
In a separate quarter a step away from the formal cafe is a dedicated children's play area equipped with plenty of toys and books. Going by the big grins planted on my children's faces upon them eyeing this area, Experience Cafe would make a great spot for playgroups and mothers wanting to get together in a child friendly environment.
Within this vicinity were more dining tables and chairs which can be utilised by patrons particularly if the front cafe gets busy or for those who would like to keep an eye on the kids at play. The venue is also available for hire with catering option available through the premises.
After my little tour through the building, I was ready to have some brunch. On the specials board, an item called Nuts About Fruits caught my eye. Presented in a glass jar were layers comprised of braised rhubarb, pear compote and organic greek yoghurt topped with toasted almonds and pecans. I thought it rather pretty but decided on something a little more substantial.
For a little taste of Marrakech, I settled on the Moroccan eggs. Featuring two perfectly poached eggs in a tomato and eggplant sauce, the choice of having it topped with either fetta or chorizo led me to select the vegetarian option. The saltiness of the fetta helped to balance out the tartness of the sauce and buttered toast on the side to completed the dish.
For those who enjoy smoked salmon, Something Fishy would be the dish to order. Rye sourdough was topped with Harris smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. Cooked with spring onion, herbs and goats cheese, the scrambled eggs were tasty. The serve was of a generous proportion.
On the specials board, the corn and zucchini fritters were enticing. These were presented on a bed of salsa rosa topped with avocado and Barossa Bacon. With a lovely hint of mint and coriander, the fritters together with the mild salsa, creamy avocado and crispy bacon made for a unique combination of flavours and textures.
Freshly squeezed apple and strawberry juice from the Adelaide Hills was refreshing and highly recommended. Meanwhile my partner who preferred a hot drink described his mug of coffee as nice and strong ending with a mellow finish.
Housed within the Uniting Church's CitySoul centre, a church cafe might not be a place I would normally consider frequenting. Perhaps it was the erroneous notion that one had to be part of the religion or the same community to enter the premises. Let it be said that this was not true and all types of people are welcomed here.
Experience Cafe is a pleasant spot with a relaxed and cosy atmosphere. It is the type of cafe that one might encounter in a nice country town. With warm friendly service, an innovative menu and child friendly environment, brunch at Experience Cafe was memorable and easily repeatable. I also wonder where I would find another cafe which provides baby lotion in their baby change facility. All these little things add up to a positive experience here.
Do you know where the money goes to? It kinda reminds me of Lentil As Anthing in Melbourne - the concept of helping people gain work experience. The food looks fantastic. Would like to try the Moroccan eggs and the Rooibos Chai.
I have been informed that the cafe is only breaking even at the moment, so any profit goes into funding the cafe and improving the premises. This will allow them to improve on what they do. e.g. new equipment (they are needing bain maries, a chest freezer, commercial toaster etc.to name but a few) If they make further profits down the line then they will invest in the volunteers through additional paid training