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Engine Room Cafe
With a long weekend coming up, it’s time to start planning the all-important city exodus. Why not turn your thoughts to a scenic trip through the Lockyer Valley and up over the range to Toowoomba?
Beat the Carnival of Flowers crowds by going at this time of year, and if you do, consider popping in to the Engine Room Café. No matter what you select from the menu it will tide you over for a good week or two – exactly what is required from a day-trip pit stop!
The best place to sit is the courtyard out the back…it’s not obvious at first glance, but well worth backtracking from the counter, through the gift shop, and up the stairs to sit out and enjoy the winter sun.
There’s a simple timber frame structure overhead and the floor is a mix of deck and old concrete. I was most intrigued though, by the walls.
A simple and fairly cost-effective series of ‘green walls’ has been created by wrapping the courtyard in curving panels of reinforcing mesh.
El-cheapo brush fencing panels are secured front and back…
…and a healthy profusion of vegetation bursts through beneath the dappled light.
Amongst the stars are maidenhair ferns, and a host of bromeliads.
Adding colour are a bougainvillea and a native violet that’s hurled itself around the base of the screens and up the front like a rat up a drainpipe.
Being disinclined to deconstruct the courtyard I wasn’t able to see what was going on behind the screens, but I imagine the pots and growing media are all back there, hanging from the reo mesh.
If you’ve read the story on Chicago’s Garfield Park Conservatory City Garden you’ll know of my fondness for garden structures made from reinforcing bars and mesh.
I reckon the Engine Room Café shows another way to use this readily available and versatile material to good effect.
Now tell me what you think? Do you like the contrast between the rusty reinforcing mesh and the verdant greenery?
Let me know in the comments below.
Happy Long-Weekend-Planning, and see you soon for more from the world of landscape and design.
Note: the Engine Room Cafe is at 1 Railway Street, Toowoomba.
There’s something truly magical about seeing a check-trousered chef wander out from his kitchen and come back clutching a few delicate fronds. It’s even better when those same fronds appear only minutes later on the plate that has just been delivered to your table.
Such was my happy fate upon visiting Wild Canary, the brand new café in the grounds of the Brookfield Garden Centre.
The fronds in question were Lemon Verbena, and they made a graceful garnish for the Strawberry Surprise muffin I’d ordered. (I am ever-skeptical of muffins. They can be tricky, don’t you think? A bad one is like a deadweight of unhappy clagginess. So common is this variety though, that the rare appearance of a good ‘un warms the soul and restores faith in the possibility of successful small baked goods).
The delicate pale purple flowers and fine foliage released a zingy lemon aroma when crushed. Mother-of-Landscapology, visiting from out of town, was so impressed she hot-footed into the nursery and bought up the last plant to take home.
The plants the chef had attacked were not in the nursery, but rather in a fantastic kitchen garden, newly established midway between the garden centre and Wild Canary.
Five raised beds have been installed, and planted out with a variety of citrus and fruiting trees, vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers, including olive, lemon, fennel, sage, basil, thyme, mint, rosemary, and of course, lemon verbena.
Wild Canary is open for breakfast and lunch, and I suspect that, having enjoyed your meal and wandered back past the kitchen garden, you too will find it difficult to leave without picking something up at the nursery.
Now it’s over to you.
Have you ever eaten something at a cafe or restaurant and then been inspired to grow it at home? Let us know what it was, and how you went in the comments below.
Of course coffee and food are made to be shared, so if you know someone else who might find this interesting, why not pass it on, and if you liked it ‘heart’ us below.
Note: Wild Canary is at the Brookfield Garden Centre, 2371 Moggill Road, Brookfield. Bookings on 3378 2805 (recommended). The are several dining areas available, including a raised internal room and a covered outdoor deck.