Founder of Your Write, freelance writer, editor, corporate communicator and TV Producer in my spare time, around being a busy mum to 3 little ones and managing our team at Your Write.
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Published May 20th 2012
There are a few things that I think can differentiate a good cafe from a truly great one. For me that not only includes great food and beautiful surrounds, but also staff that go above and beyond their normal duties. Such was the experience for us at the Cottage Garden Nursery in East Brisbane.
The Cottage Garden Nursery is a fascinating place. As its name suggests it is a nursery, with flowers (including the most amazing roses) and indoor and outdoor plants and herbs for sale around the grounds. There are also beautiful stone designer pots, potting mix, soils, fertilisers, and pretty much everything you need from a nursery under one roof (or rather in one garden, as much of the nursery extends around the perimeter, enclosing the cafe building). There is also a manned desk just inside the courtyard to help and answer any of your gardening related questions.
But The Cottage Garden Nursery is so much more than just a nursery. There is a beautiful seating area to enjoy sumptuous desserts and really good coffee from award-winning chefs Tracy and Gillian Hirst. Within the nursery are collections of antiques from three different traders, and nestled within the antiques is a beautiful florist.
I have to confess my ignorance when it comes to antiques, but even my untrained eye could see that the diversity of fittings, furniture, and trinkets would be sure to intrigue anyone looking to outfit their home or add to a collection.
We arrived for a Sunday morning breakfast at the cafe (known, perhaps not unsurprisingly, as Gillian's Garden Cafe) with a hungry toddler, two tired, hungry, and very grumpy babies, and a bewildered husband wondering why his wife dragged the family out for breakfast, which is always an ambitious project with three small children.
The coffee was good and the menu had amazing breakfast offerings. I am usually such a creature of habit, always ordering the same thing when I go out for breakfast, but Gillian's menu was not your ordinary breakfast menu and so tempted me to try something different. I went for the caramelized french toast with vanilla orange blossom and crisp bacon, which was absolutely divine. My husband had glazed bacon with Italian style sausage, poached free range eggs, smashed potato and homemade bbq sauce, equally as good but very different from my breakfast. Our toddler was also well taken care of with slices of brioche and bacon.
The cafe is open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch, and everything in between. It is also available for evening functions and the kitchen provides catering for events. The chefs pride themselves on using all locally sourced produce and it really comes through in the taste, style, and presentation of the food. The menu isn't your typical standard cheap breakfast fare, but it certainly won't break the bank either. The Cottage Garden Nursery is so tranquil, you would never guess it was located on busy Stanley Street in East Brisbane.
Disaster struck halfway through the meal when one of our babies pulled my husband's coffee over herself, my husband and everything else within a two metre radius. The staff were quick to cheerfully clean it up and bring another coffee. When shortly after this our tired babies started to quietly grizzle, the head waitress volunteered to wheel the pram so that we (and presumably the other patrons around us) could enjoy our meals. As we finished, she delivered back two happy, sleeping babies and ensured that Gillian's Garden Cafe and the Cottage Garden Nursery as a whole would become a firm favourite of our family.