$3.00 for a coffee... no wonder it is getting so difficult to find a table. This place is getting so popular now, and so it should be. Situated in the Pines shopping centre is a bustling cafe where you can have a rest from your shopping spree and enjoy anything from a light lunch to a massive meal to a sweet treat. The menu is extensive and you would be hard pressed not to find something that tempted your tastebuds. If I am feeling really hungry, I love the BLT Focaccia ($9.50) which consists of short cut bacon rashers, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and mayonnaise with a side of chips and salad. All day breakfast options such as Eggs on Toast ($6.50) are always good. You can create your own sandwich fillings which are then served on huge slices of bread that make the biggest sandwich you have ever seen. The Zucchini Frittata ($7.50) served with salad is also appetising and allows you some space to perhaps indulge in a sweet. A ‘small’ slice of cake is $3.90! Believe me, you only need a small. Many choices are available including a berry cheesecake and a lemon, lime, and pear tart. For something less rich, the banana bread ($3.50) is super yummy, toasted and served with butter. There is a coffee card available too where you get the sixth coffee free. Or if you would prefer something stronger, a glass of wine is $4.50 or grab a beer for $4.00. The wait staff here are so friendly! I am pleasantly surprised to be always asked how my coffee and meal was as this simple act of customer service is so unusual nowadays. This cafe is a delight and should be part of your next visit to the Pines.
Ah Sassafras, the busiest place in the hills. Only the most devoted foodies will agree to the long waiting times to gain entry to Miss Marple’s Tea Room. Other options are therefore a must if you are lucky enough to obtain the mythical vacant car space. I have only been to The Black Kettle for coffee before as it was a quiet alternative to the other cafes available in Sassafras but unfortunately the other day we decided to go for lunch. The cafe was fairly empty so I thought this place was a possible oasis to escape the crowds outside. I tried to order the Harvest Pie ($14.95). Cheese, tomato, spinach, onion, potato, capsicum and egg in a wholemeal pastry served with chips and salad. Alas, this was not available. I then came up with many different options from the menu but none of these were available either. I was tempted to ask what actually was available on the menu but finally got lucky with the Homemade Tartlet of the day ($14.95). This was a capsicum tart served chips and salad. Sadly, the tartlet was tasteless and the pastry was uncooked. The chips and salad were great, thankfully. ‘Homemade’ apparently means bland here. My friend ordered the Egg and Bacon Sandwich ($8.50) which was very plentiful and tasty with thick slices of bread. The coffee ($3.50) was again good. Today, cakes included a Belgium Lemon Tart ($7.00) which the crust had fallen off and a Gluten-free Mud Cake. The older waitress was unfriendly but maybe that was because she was sick of having to explain that they didn’t have many things on the menu available. The front door was also quite startling for diners of the cafe as it let off a thunderous bang every time people entered or exited. There are much better places in the Dandenongs to eat and would probably only come here again as a last resort.
Serendipity intervened when deciding to visit the Basin Music festival. With a sudden urge for a coffee, I came across one of the eastern suburbs hidden secrets. One visit was all it took for Svaks to become one of my favourite foodie destinations. The staff are very friendly and the service is excellent. They offer a vast range of quality sweet and savoury treats which are incredible value. The pancake stack is a popular choice ($6.50) which is a wonderful creation. Layers of pancakes are filled with avocado, spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes and béchamel sauce and served warm. There are also pies and quiches ($4.00) among other savoury offerings. Coffee is excellent ($3.50). Always hot with a smooth taste. If you still have room for something sweet then the Danishes ($3.50) are delicious, especially the cherry! There are too many cakes on offer for me to include them all here. However, I would highly recommend the fruit tart, carrot cake, and lemon meringue pie ($4.50). Sweet servings are generous and can easily be shared between two people. Oops, now the secret is out but sometimes things are too good that they have to be shared... Enjoy!