In fact, in the whole of the North West Slopes and Plains, there are only a mini sized handful of places that I would visit on a regular basis and enjoy the meal every time. Being here has definitely been more about the food I can grow and cook, and less about the food I can go out to enjoy. Not that I mind this of course, but it's also nice to have the option to visit somewhere fab for lunch if you feel like a nice long lunch or just a little treat.
When I was recently in Tamworth, my compadre suggested Addimi Espresso Cafe. I went along with no great expectations, but with the hope that they would have something on offer other than the usual sun dried tomato foccacia melt, B.L.AT. with chips and salad or chicken caesar (no anchovies).
Glancing from the outside, the cafe is very busy- it has a buzz to it, with some quaint seating outside and in. The decor is simple, yet obvious thought has gone into the design, and this little eatery wouldn't look out of place in a Melbourne laneway.
Once we are seated, a polite waitress brings a menu, and it's to my relief that there isn't a chicken burger in sight. I'm impressed with the extent of the menu, and the interesting options available. From the cabinet, paninis from $13.9 are an option. Fillings are inspired and include the tasty looking rosemary lamb, rocket and tzatziki. I notice a number of other patrons filling up on the popular paninis.
Blackboard specials are tempting. $22 for a chat potato, chorizo and olive salad with paprika, parsley, chives and watercress - or $23 for a seared Salmon fillet with asparagus, organo and garlic cream fettucine, which takes my P.I.E.'s (partner in eating) fancy.
Being almost embarrassingly predictable with my choices, I notice the $26 scallop salad with crispy pancetta, sun dried tomatoes, beetroot and watercress and decide to go with it. I can't help but wonder if it is a good idea eat these jewels of the sea when I'm in The Sticks, but the addict within screams for a hit of scallopy goodness. I've been craving scallops for a while and these are one of the few foods (ok, that is a HUGE lie, there so many things on this list I've lost count) I really, really cannot do without.
From the name of the establishment, you can tell that coffee is something they are pretty keen on. I can't comment - you know, that old I don't do coffee because I'm not great with caffeine chestnut, but luckily my companion can give a little rundown (I think I'll have to aim to have a coffee lover with me on my eating trips). They use allpress espresso and my PIE ordered a large cappucino. A small was delievered to the table - and as my PIE needed a caffeine hit and wasn't happy to settle for a small, this was promptly rectified. The coffee was hot and strong, and went down quite well. A cut above coffee available anywhere else in town/the district. (If you ever want to punish someone severely, take them to the Tamworth Airport and order a flat white.. punishment enough for any heinous crime)...
I liked the look of a dairy free, house made frappe but then saw the san pellegrino range offered and went with an old fave, the totally underrated limonata.
Not long after our drinks arrive, the food is placed on the table in front of us. Very quick. I estimate this was only about 10 minutes after we placed our order, which is prompt and perfect if you are just popping in for lunch or on a break from work.
My salad, fresh and full is surrounded by 8 scallops. I have to admit that in The Sticks, $26 is probably a little pricier than most options, but with 8 babies on my plate, I'm happy enough to pay the asking price (did I have a choice anyway? ha ha). I'm delighted to see the scallops with a just caramelised appearance and once I cut through and pop one into my mouth, my fears dissolve, as does the scallop which is tender and as it should be. The pancetta is crispy and salty, a good companion for it's sea mate on the plate. The salad was 'nice', but the taste wasn't quite on target. Perhaps not being a personal fan of sundried tomatoes taints my view, but I would have preferred without. The olives and beetroot, however, worked well and added some complexity to the dish. The subtle sensation that should be provided by the truffled dressing was faint, if impossible to detect. The watercress was absent and replaced with snow pea tendrils and some lettuce, but this isn't really a detriment to the dish. Overall, the dish was good- scallops and pancetta are perfect partners, the salad was fresh but could use some refining.
My PIE's meal was just what the doctor ordered (literally, aren't doctors always telling us to eat more fish?!). The salmon was crispy skinned but soft inside, and the garlic cream fettucine was creamy with a punch of garlicky goodness and managed to be light whilst still being moreish. The asparagus was cut into small pieces, but cooked to perfection- tender. The only complaint from my pie was that there could have been more asparagus. The nice thing about this dish was that the portions of each component were perfect- the salmon being a sensible size but still filling enough for a hearty lunch.
By this stage, the seating was getting a little uncomfortable- stools always have this problem. They look cute but aren't particularly great for longer stays. This did play on my mind but didn't deter me from leaving without first getting something sweet. The cabinet had captured my attention with some simply gorgeous looking baked goods. Carrot cake with vanilla frosting $3.8, Apple crumble, Belgium choc brownies (about $4.8 from memory) and pistachio and raspberry friands at $4.2 looked cute to boot, but it was the lime and citrus tea cake for $4.2 that looked like something I'd like to have in my (imaginary, pinterest inspired, vintage and totally gorgeous) tea parties that I finally decided upon (after two trips to the cabinet looking like a total fatty).
I would have been well impressed if they had made all these goodies in house, but it turns out they have them shipped in (well, let's face it- it's not actually shipped because there is no sea to ship on) from Sydney. Still, this doesn't take away from the delicateness and cuteness of the items, and the fact the range was so much more interesting than 'caramel slice or mars bar slice.' Chosen well Addimi. My cake was coconutty and moist and a little bit spesh. I will go back and order some more of the items- belgium chocolate brownie - you may wish to run for cover!
Our bill for the meal came in at just $62 which isn't cheap and cheerful but given the quality and interesting food on offer and the prompt service, definitely isn't overpriced.
It was a relief to finally find somewhere that serves up something that is worth writing about- and more importantly, worth going back to. This little spot is a little bit cosmopolitan and a little bit cute with interesting food and a buzzy vibe.
When to visit: Whenever you are in Tamworth
So tell me readers, have you found any good places to eat in The Sticks?
257/259 Peel Street
Tamworth NSW 2340
ph: 02 6766 7802