I was recently criticized by a couple of people on our community page for only ordering a bowl of chips for lunch in the New Ivanhoe pub. Oh dear, I feel I can never order my rare and special treat again.😪 I thought it might be a good idea to repost this old piece. Sadly, some of the venues are no longer in existence and the info for others needs updating. We lost the Blackheath Bar & Bistro a while back, and more recently the Wattle Cafe and Anonymous.
I have written articles for my website on virtually every cafe and restaurant in the village as a means of promoting them. Our local businesses have had such a tough time due to the bushfires and Covid.
WRITING AWAY FROM HOME
Writers spend lot of time alone, so it’s great to get out occasionally to enjoy the social buzz of a café or pub. There are plenty to choose from in my Blue Mountains village of Blackheath. My lightweight laptop goes everywhere with me, even if I’m just having a quick cup of coffee.
Altitude – Good name for a café in the Blue Mountains. Last food orders at around 3pm, which can be a trap for the uninitiated. On the plus side. the striking, carved wall panels by artist Rob Keen are a joy to behold. Food wise, the breakfasts are great and the Melting Moments are pure heaven (mostly butter and icing sugar.😍) Of course, sometimes the words just don’t flow smoothly… even after an injection of sugar and caffeine.
Anonymous – I feel I should use a pen name when I work here. I’ve yet to enquire about the reason for the name, but there are certainly photos of nameless people on the wall.
There are times when I suddenly remember long overdue projects and feel too guilty to order a treat with my coffee.
Bakery on Wentworth – Famous for its sourdough breads and old-fashioned pies. Follow the aroma of fresh bread down Wentworth Street. It’s located opposite the local medical centre, so unfortunately GP’s can spot their patients sneaking in for too many carbs and calories.
Blackheath Bar and Bistro – Wednesday is ‘Dumpling Day’ – $12 for a basket. When possible I like to have a view of the inspiring Mt Tomah murals on the back wall. They are by the artist Rachel Szalay.
Blackheath Deli – Since I was writing about Australia in the 1950s the day I came here, a lamington seemed appropriate. Very few seats, so only to be used in their quietest periods.
Blackheath General Store – Be careful when ordering at this café. I pointed to a plate of plain scones in a display case and said. ‘A flat white coffee and one of those scones please.’ And look what arrived. Well I didn’t like to create a fuss, so I had to eat the lot.
New Ivanhoe Hotel. – There’s rarely a lack of seats in a pub. I was drawn to this venue when I heard they had a coal fire. Now I’m definitely not in favour of burning coal, but apparently it produces a particularly cosy heat. Lithgow ( further west) still has a working mine. Of course the wretched fire wasn’t going when I ventured in.
The atmosphere of the Ivanhoe is summed up by a collage clock on the lounge mantelpiece. A pot of tea seems more appropriate here than coffee. What treasure this place is.
Public Library – No food or drink at the library of course, except for free chocolate hearts on Library Lovers’ Day (February 14). On the plus side there is free wifi, spare power points, and a quieter atmosphere than cafes and pubs. It’s only open four days a week, morning or afternoon, so one has to check in advance……. or have a good memory. The librarian bearing chocolates in the photo was at Katoomba library, but they do send some ‘up the hill’.
Victory Antiques Centre Café – This space is very dangerous if, like me, you love antiques. I accidentally bought an antique writing desk recently. I suppose I could claim it as a tax deduction. Mind you, the attached café is a pleasant spot for a working lunch or afternoon tea. The tables at the back are best; quieter and away from drafts when the door opens. To be avoided on weekends and school holidays as it’s a real tourist draw.
Wattle Café – a worthy finale to the list, especially in winter.
There are paintings for sale at The Wattle. I’m not sure whether they are very good or very bad. Here is a local Sulphur Crested Cockatoo staring down a robin. What do you think?
Writing in cafés is generally a solo experience, unless you can find a like-minded soul who doesn’t have much to say. My associate Editor Des comes along occasionally. Rarely interrupts, bless his heart. Did he come up with any ideas? No.
A few words of wisdom for fellow café writing types (and a reminder to myself) . Don’t outstay your welcome. Avoid busy periods. Spend a decent amount of money. Oh, and at the library, borrow a few books. We don’t want any branches closing down, especially Blackheath.
I never really stay that long anyway, because the call of home is too strong. In winter there’s always a warm fire, and free coffee made by my partner, Barista Bob, who even turns his hand to coffee art on occasions.
MAKING THE MOST OF OUR CAFE CULTURE