Dreaming of inner-city deck-chair courtyard coffee? Dream no longer, desk rats. For at least a decade, Town Hall Garden Cafe has been serving food 'n' bev in its garden beds. Did people know about this? MMC was certainly surprised, and a thirsty Thursday was set aside for the big Taste Test. The Order: one skinny flat white, have here, and one skinny latte, takeaway. The Prices: a nice, round $3 each.
THGC seems to have it all. Location, location and location. Or as the uniniated would text message frantically, location? location?? um, location??? It's borderline buried in the square between Flinders, King William and Pirie streets, accessible via all three but visible via none. We enter from Pirie, where a sharp turn towards the Town Hall shunts us straight up the disabled-friendly ramp. Some next day recon uncovers a snazzy throughway along the side of the Treasury, following Prince Alfred Lane.
It's all very regal - teacups, the Town Hall and tended gardens. Prince Alfred would approve, whoever he was. Who he was was the second son of Queen Victoria, infamous for an 1867-8 visit to Australia that saw him wounded in a Lennonesque Sydney shooting. Outraged and embarassed - our first ever princely visit! - we Crown-loyal Aussies executed the irritated Irish Catholic gunman within a month. We earned Prince Alred's 'conviction of the loyalty of the colonists at large', and a repeat visit the following year, when he opened an eponymous boys college and a hotel that was - aha! - formerly connected to the Town Hall. Who knew.
Back in the present, and the coffee looks like it could be a gift. MMC hasn't seen much of Monjava, yet another orange SA coffee co., batch-roasting (in small portions) for boutique brilliance. As well as by branding, MMC is greeted warmly by the solo staffer, a definite owner vibe, over-50s. I say flat white, he says how high - pushing the go go espresso button before I hand over the gravy. The Service: needless to say, it's impressively instant, and table delivered.
In the monjava moment, a few mysteries remain. The Pour: a bit of an uggo - the demarcated crema/milk is perhaps the legacy of the premature button press. Had the machine handles been pre-filled? If so, when? And should the shot sit in cup for fetch/steam/pour milk minutes? There's enough, and creamy enough, milk/foam though. The Flavour: none-too-shabby - a pretty mellow moment. FMMC has arrived and taken away - he's far from failing it on flavour or strength.
The Lesson: it's agreed that the chance to escape the cubicle-clad corporate collective adds almost a full bean to the coffee experience. Newbies like Funk replicate the office environment with clean lines and central cooling. THGC is oasis-like in its open-air isolation. MMC doesn't often plug, but small business, big rents... If nothing else, take your Nanna there for lunch and coffee when she's in town for Morning Melodies. The home-fare food will be the closest thing you find to her cooking. P.S. they sell coronas!
Link: Prince Alfie and the 1868 Clontarf Assination Attempt