I'm a freelance writer living in the beautiful river town of Mannum in South Australia dreaming of the day I can retire from the 9-5 to write full-time.
Published April 4th 2016
A Little Hideaway of Vegan Delights
The Little Secret Garden certainly lives up to its name. It is not easy to spot as you drive down North Terrace in Littlehampton, but keep a look out for the quaint sign that points the way in. The cafe is set back off the road behind a chain-mail fence and looks more than a little out of place.
But park the car and step through the little wooden gate and you will find yourself in another world. Nestled here you will find the cafe, a tiny, white, wooden cottage that time forgot. My first impression when I entered was that it reminded me of my grandmother's house, right down to the chequered tablecloths and crocheted doilies.
There I met the owner, Valeria who has managed the cafe for two years, as well as catering events and attending local markets on the weekends. Although she holds a PHD in animal behaviour, she has always had a love of cooking (mainly due, she suggests, to her Italian background.) This cafe is her way of expressing her creative side and her love of all things vintage.
All the food on offer is home-made, gluten-free, vegan or vegetarian using seasonal ingredients and all locally sourced. For example, on the day I was there the fare included several fig recipes utilising figs that were given to her by a customer. This helps to keep the menu unique and varied, and the prices low. Some of the more popular items on regular offer are the Garden Frittata and the Garden Burger. In winter you can order a Winter Stack and a warming soup.
Valeria has plans to upgrade the venue and has recently finished a pallet fence around the outdoor area. The majority of the cafe's clientèle are locals who are attracted to the quiet, homey atmosphere but more visitors are coming from further afield, mainly due to positive word-of-mouth recommendations.
It's clear that Valeria has the support of the community to ensure this little cafe succeeds. Even her sign out the front was given to her by a regular customer – the local vet, to make the unconventional location easier to find.