Excelsior Jones crossed my mind, but I wanted to take advantage of the good weather... and plonked in the middle of suburban Ashfield wasn't exactly the scenic spot I was hoping to show my MIL. What else was close but had nice atmosphere, outdoor seating, and some decent food? Armory Wharf Cafe came to mind. I first visited the Armory in early 2012 for a brunch. It was a quick visit but I did enjoy the surrounds, so I thought it was time for a revisit.
The Armory is located next to Parramatta River, and it is a scenic spot to sit and watch the ferries go by. The area was formerly, as you may have guessed, the Newington Armory which was used for arnament storage in the 1940s. The building where the cafe is known as Building 13, and was constructed to house and test explosives. After a fire in the area in January 2008, it was refurbished and rebuilt to form the cafe.
Pulling up on a Wednesday, I was pleased to see that there weren't the hoards of people that I had encountered on my previous visit. The Armory is located next to a massive playground and has a good cycling route next to it, and on the weekends, the area is just packed with families and cyclists. That said, for a Wednesday, all the outdoor tables were filled and so I was glad that I had made a reservation.
The menu is extensive and varied, with some good offerings on there that caught my eye. I knew straight away that I had to order the squid ink pasta, served with tomatoes, prawns, peas and preserved lemon for my MIL as she is a huge fan of all things squid ink - and all things not readily available in Asia. For myself, I was tossing up between the tea smoked chicken and quinoa salad, but when plates and plates of prawn rolls came past me to be delivered to fellow diners, I thought that I better jump on the bandwagon.
Service was friendly and efficient, with the three waitstaff refilling the water bottle unprompted and checking in with us to make sure that the food and we were okay. The restaurant was full of what seemed like regular patrons: retired couples enjoying chilled glasses of wine in the midday sun, mothers meeting up over brunch, friends catching up. It had a very relaxing feel about the place, and my MIL and I eased back into our seats, and enjoyed the atmosphere.
|Squid ink pasta, with prawns, cherry tomatoes, peas and preserved lemon - $26.50|
|Prawn roll w/ cucumber & coriander mayonnaise, served w/ chunky chips - $17|
This is a lovely cafe, in a gorgeous location. A perfect place for a quiet week day catch up. For those with kids, make a reservation on the weekend, send the kids off to the playground and enjoy your brunch!
Armory Wharf Cafe
Blaxland Riverside Park
Ph: (02) 9714 7513
Reservations can be made online