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Plant 13 Cafe

Home > Adelaide > Food and Wine | Fair Trade | Cafes | Breakfast | Lunch
by Yin-Yin Ow (subscribe)
I love the good life and particular great food. Good food is meant to be shared. Follow me on my adventures through food, travelling and all that I am passionate about.
Published November 4th 2012
Georgia On My Mind
Once home to light industry and factories, Bowden's landscape is changing rapidly. Townhouses have erupted from small cottages and corner delis are a thing of the past. With this change we welcome Plant 13. It is not a industrial plant nor a nursery but rather a cafe serving mainly American food from the southern state of Georgia. It is a place that I have been eager to visit since its inception earlier this year. Not wanting to delay checking out this place any further, I finally ventured in today.

The site where Plant 13 stands has an interesting story dating back to the early twentieth century. The federation style building formerly known as Park View Hotel was once a watering hole for industrial workers in the area. The Clipsal site was home to 18 different industrial plants. Each industrial plant in the area was given a number from 1 to 18 but there was never a number 13 due to superstition surrounding that numeral. So Plant 13 was the name playfully given to the pub by locals during its heyday. That nickname has been revitalised by the cafe I visited today.

[ADVERT]Plant 13's interior is decked out with an industrial urban look. With orange symbolizing it's industrial heritage and green signifying a new start, these splashes of colour provided some gaiety in an otherwise dark steely interior. The alfresco area gives a good view of vehicles passing along Park Terrace but conversation can be drowned by the noise of traffic. The setting is warm minus the fresh air. Unless one has noisy children or would like a smoke I would prefer sitting indoors. With an aged federation exterior that hides what lies within, many could have driven past Plant 13 on Park Terrace without so much as a second glance. Probably the cafe relies on 'word of mouth' recommendations.

A big happy family overseers at Plant 13. Cheerful smiles and chirpy greetings - it is apparent that the crew at Plant 13 love their job. With personable customer service and friendly small talk, you feel that the people here are genuine. This is the thing I like most about Plant 13. I gather it is one of those places that does not take long for them to remember your first name.

plant13 Cafe Bowden Park Terrace American Diner Clipsal industrial site history kitchen
Sit at the shared plate bar and have a lively chat to Cole as he makes your drink

Sitting at vantage point to observe the ongoing dramas of a busy open kitchen can be quite entertaining. I watched over the shared plate bar, mesmerized as the drinks maestro stirred, blended, garnished and did whatever he needed to concoct his array of unusual drinks. Turns out the drinks maestro is Cole Thomas, co-owner of Plant 13. He tells me the food I had ordered is quintessentially the type of food from his hometown, Georgia. With Chad Fedele as head chef from former Mesa Lunga, there are some Italian flavors that graced the menu.

plant13 Cafe Bowden Park Terrace American Diner Clipsal industrial site history apple pie crumble smoothie
Apple Pie Crumble Smoothie $7

Always on the want for something different, I ordered the Apple Pie Smoothie. Probably not a good idea. The flavor combination was a little too odd for my liking. The use of Granny Smiths and yoghurt provided the tart factor. Biscuit crumbs on top added a kitsch touch. Cole said he may consider adding a dash of sweetness to balance it out in the future. His experiments with inventive drink combinations are exciting but the result can be a hit or miss for some. Despite this, I am keen to try the Orange Frothie on my next visit which seems quite the rage here.

plant13 Cafe Bowden Park Terrace American Diner Clipsal industrial site history sampler tasting menu mac & cheese philly steak sandwich pulled pork bun
Plant 13 Sampler: Mini Pork Roll, Mac & Cheese and Philly Cheese Steak $16

The Plant 13 Sampler is a good option to get a feel of the food served at Plant 13. It comprises small serves of pulled BBQ pork bun, Philly cheese steak and macaroni and cheese. Smoked over hickory wood chips, the pork in the bun was the stunner of the three. The pork is smoked for three days, the result of which you get meat that disintegrates in your mouth. With BBQ sauce made from an aged old recipe added into the meat the result left me wishing I had ordered the main size served with slaw.

plant13 Cafe Bowden Park Terrace American Diner Clipsal industrial site history sampler tasting menu mac & cheese philly steak sandwich pulled pork bun
Eyeing my companion's full size pulled BBQ pork bun with coleslaw $14

Philly cheese steak was a nostalgic item on the menu. Beef, onions, peppers and provolone in a roll makes for a simple meal. Philly cheese steak was something Cole used to eat back in his uni days and now he has introduced Adelaideans to it.

Mac and cheese took on an unusual twist due to the addition of jalapeņo peppers. It is also deceptively 'hot'. It makes a good accompaniment to a meal but can become too heavy on the stomach as a main.

Plant 13 has joined the steadily growing list of eateries that serve food with a conscience. If possible, products are locally sourced. Animal products are described as free-range, ethically raised, hormone and antibiotic free. Coffee is organic and fair-trade.

There is also an artisanal practice here. Smallgoods, breads and sauces are made on site. With a kitchen garden in the process of materialisation, things are set to get better. Soon they can even claim their food as from kitchen garden to the table.

plant13 Cafe Bowden Park Terrace American Diner Clipsal industrial site history sampler tasting menu mac & cheese philly steak sandwich pulled pork bun
Plant 13 on Park Terrace

Like the nearby Loose Caboose, Plant 13 is injecting life into Bowden. The Bowden Urban Village development, which sits next to Plant 13, will also bring to life the former industrial precinct. Apartments and more townhouses will be sprouting up like mushrooms and I can envisage that Plant 13 will be on their toes feeding the community there. Cheers!
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Why? Become part of their big happy family
When: Breakfast and Lunch 7 days a week 7am - 4pm. Dinner on the horizon.
Phone: 8340 8840
Where: 18 Park Terrace, Bowden 5007
Cost: Mains average around $14. Sides $8. Special drinks $5 - $7
Your Comment
Great article Yin-Yin.

I love the concept of the Bowden development, and I didn't realise how easy it was to get there from the city. I hop on the train (Adelaide station is right outside my apartment) and Bowden is just one stop away. It's great.

Good luck with the cafe competition by the way. I thought I'd send some encouragement to everyone entering. It'll be interesting to see how the competition pans out. I think you're in with a good shot.
by Natasha Stewart (score: 4|10437) 3736 days ago
A riveting review Yin-Yin, well done!
You cover all aspects from the history to the tastes (and the interesting bits between), with some useful recommendations too.
And you links are a level of art above mine lol
Does the cafe occupy the whole original pub ground floor?
by Dave Walsh (score: 4|11309) 3746 days ago
not that I think there's anything wrong with it, just because it's out of the way for me...
by Kathleen (score: 2|589) 3744 days ago
Great read. Yum. Pulled pork bun. And looks like the serves are good value for the price.
by curiouser&curiouser (score: 2|526) 3745 days ago
Looks like an interesting place and I now really want to try an apple crumble smoothie!
by Jennifer Muirhead (score: 3|1417) 3736 days ago
Is that Mini Pork Roll, Mac & Cheese and Philly Cheese Steak all one meal?!
by Bastion Harrison (score: 4|12630) 3734 days ago
Woohoo congratulations Yin-Yin on your award!
SOOO close to first prize too :)
by Dave Walsh (score: 4|11309) 3729 days ago
Great article Yin Yin.
Congrats on your win, well're a legend.....
Interesting history on the place, good background on the food and the personal touch make for a very good article......
by James Newcombe (score: 2|359) 3714 days ago
Thanks for that, yes, I still have one old enough to opt for the kid's menu.
by curiouser&curiouser (score: 2|526) 3745 days ago
Place looks and sounds good, but whether I will ever venture out to Bowden is another question entirely...
by Kathleen (score: 2|589) 3744 days ago
Congratulations on bronze!
by Bastion Harrison (score: 4|12630) 3729 days ago
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