To those who think that you need a prime location on the Gold Coast for your café to succeed, think again!
Cubby Bake House has an ‘out of the box’ location in the Tweed Valley. To put it mildly, Chinderah is hardly the place for ‘walk by’ traffic.
“The growth of Cubby Bakehouse has been organic – more than any other place I’ve worked,” says manager Nimrod Baker. “We have regulars who come in like clockwork every day for their Marvell Street coffee.”
It’s on the road to everywhere, and when we visit on a weekday morning, the place is packed with locals: a mixed demographic of retirees sharing cake, tradies popping in for a takeaway coffee, ambos grabbing lunch, young mothers talking over a snack, and even a Harley Davidson rider on his way through.
There may be few Goldie visitors during the week, but come the weekend, they swarm across the border in their 4WDs, eager for a country adventure.
The Goldie’s only just catching on to how beautiful it is south of the border, but when that caldera magic grabs them, it takes them for good.
That’s what happened to Cubby’s owners, Ursula and Ben Watts. After opening Paddock Bakery in 2013 (since sold to a family member), they opened Bam Bam, Neptune Kiosk and now Cubby, moving permanently from the coast to Chinderah as residents.
It’s ironic that a century ago there was a bakery on this very site. It’s as though it’s been waiting for someone to restore the glint in its eye. The building is the master of understatement with its coal exterior, the single inn lantern beside the main entry lighting up a single word: ‘Cubby’; laid back enough to fit into the sleepy riverside village. Inside, the restoration is in keeping with its heritage, with cray pot shades, marble table tops, baskets of upended baguettes and a large cabinet of patisserie catching our eye as we enter.
Of course, Cubby’s sweets, like any from the Paddock/Bam Bam stable are a legendary sweet tooth’s delight: lemon meringue tart, salted caramel and white chocolate cookies and vanilla slice to name a few.
But, for us, the baguettes and banh mi are savoury treat heaven.
Behind the scenes, money has been invested where it counts: in the French oven and kitchen equipment and in Ursula and Ben travelling to France to learn the art of making perfect baguettes using the best French flour.
“And just like in France, no baguette sits on the shelf longer that two hours,” the couple say… and damn, they’re brilliant! They’re a feature of the menu, either as Baguette Sambos French Style with ham, cultured butter and Nimbin Valley cheese or Caprese-style, with Eggs Your Way and items from the list of extras, as a Baggie Benny with streaky bacon and hollandaise, or as stuffed sandwiches from the cabinet.
Equally as good are the banh mi. We try two and shake our head in wonder. They’re the best we’ve had since Vietnam, their fillings even better suited to our palate!
It took the occupation of Vietnam by the French to achieve the banh mi, so just as well it’s worth eating! The most important thing about banh mi is the bread. It has to be fresh – crispy on the outside, with ‘eggshelling’ on the top (almost cutting the roof of your mouth with its crispness), soft and doughy (and of a certain consistency) on the inside.
Cubby’s French buns (used for the banh mi) are close to perfect, and certainly less hazardous than the Viet versions we tried on our travels!
I’m usually one who says that ‘tradition knows best’, but in this case I’m wrong. I just love Cubby’s Pork Banh Mi. It steers away from the traditional pâté and char sui, providing instead an explosion of freshness: juicy marinated pork fillet, authentic Vietnamese flavours retained through the use of sawtooth coriander and other Asian herbs, Nuoc Cham and more.
The Karaage Chicken Banh Mi is equally delicious but even less traditional, flavours ramped up with fresh coriander and chilli, Kewpie and house-made teriyaki complementing softly yielding karaage.
“Next time you’re down there, pop in and get some more of those baguettes,” says the Main Squeeze between mouthfuls of his brie-slathered bun.
Of course! I’m already planning to take him on the next visit!
162 Chinderah Bay Dr, Chinderah NSW Ph: 0458 958 852
Open: Mon – Sun 5.30am – 3pm