Douglas has been a professional food writer since 1986. He is also an award-winning actor and director in Community Theatre and has been for many years. His blog may be found at: www.urbaneguerilla.wordpress.com
Published January 1st 2014
A chip off the olde Englishe block
There is a great pleasure in living in a quaint English-style village.
Obviously not a village like St Mary Mead where Miss Marple lives, which has a worse murder rate than El Salvadore, more a village like Darlington, nestled in the Perth Hills near Mundaring.
Home-made cakes (Photo by Douglas Sutherland-Bruce)
Darlington has everything one could wish for - ivy covered houses, tree-shaded streets, an excellent art gallery, a small commercial area of tiny shops and a village green where they hold a fete each year and a stone-wrought village Hall.
One would naturally expect a 'Tea Shoppe', possibly in Willow Pattern, but they don't actually have that, which would be too 'teddibly British', they have something rather better and more suited for our climate - The Pines.
Arts and craft at The Pines (Photo by Douglas Sutherland-Bruce)
The Pines is a very old building that has been through several incarnations, mostly along the delicatessen/everything shop line, but it has now been taken over by a young couple, David Lee Steere and his wife, Jacqui.
HomThe Pines, Darlington (Photo by Douglas Sutherland-Bruce)
Long-time residents of Darlington they have spent a very great deal of money on the old building to bring it in line with the style and relaxed stylishness so often found in Darlington.
It has been stripped back and cleaned, had French Windows and patio doors installed, the floors cut back to the most attractive original Jarrah and a large deck extended out of the side into a shady and leafy outdoor area - very attractive.
Inside the surprisingly large area is roughly segmented into an eating area of wrought iron and wood tables with an eclectic selection of 1930's dining room chairs mixed with Edwardian Bentwood as well as a sizeable portion devoted to crafts, gifts, homewares and artworks all available for sale.
A 'Big Brekkie' at The Pines (Photo by Douglas Sutherland-Bruce)
The Pines is open seven days a week for breakfast and lunch, either dine-in or take-away.
James and I, never averse to a bite a brekkie, dropped in on a balmy early summer's morn to admire the changes and enjoy a plate of comestibles.
The menu is simple, but elegant, rather like the whole place.
After a certain amount of debate we chose the 'Big Brekkie' ($20) of two eggs cooked in your preferred style, bacon, little Chipolata sausages, home-made baked beans served in a small dish, potato Rosti, roasted tomato and sourdough toast.
I had my eggs fried 'easy over' and James chose poached, which was a wise move as they were perfectly poached in the free-form style. I have tried this myself with, ahem, mixed success so I do admire anyone who can get that perfection of cooked white and runny yellow.
The mushrooms were the large flat field rather than the neat, more attractive, but less tasty, white button. Taste over looks every time, in my opinion.
The 'big brekkie' is far from being your only choice to break your fast. Other options include Eggs Benedict with either ham ($16) or smoked salmon ($17); Cinnamon French Toast with Ricotta and mixed berries with a side of Maple syrup ($14.50); Mushrooms on toast ($14.50) or a simple smoked salmon open sandwich with two eggs, avocado and a salsa of capers, dill and red onion ($18).
All the eggs used by The Pine's cook are free-range, so you get that rich, guilt-free, taste.
For the smalls there is a 'Kids Menu' at $8 with pancakes and Maple syrup, fruit kebabs and dipping yoghurt and a child's size bacon and egg burger.
As well as breakfast and light lunches, The Pines offers a great range of cakes, muffins and slices all either cooked on the premises or sourced locally, encouraging cottage industry as well as supporting local small businesses.
The coffee, served in handsome sized, country-style, mugs was excellent.
The Pines is hardly a new addition to the Darlington scene, but as a place to meet friends, enjoy a coffee in delightful surroundings, perhaps a bite to eat, browse some charming bric-a-brac and make a few gift selections, it is certainly a welcome one.