They say that location is everything, but for cafés, that doesn’t always mean being in the main street. Sometimes, being the only café in a neighbourhood can be a winning formula, especially when the venue provides great service to the community.
When Dylan and Kira Rackley took over the Lakeview General Store just over four years ago, they probably had no idea exactly where it would lead.
The setting was always great, in a quiet residential area with a verandah overlooking a park and lake, the couple rebranding the store as a local gourmet and organic food store with only light meals, in keeping with council regulations.
Three years after we first met them, Kira and Dylan have completed a renovation of the café, adding smart wooden tables and a sparkling new countertop, rebranding the venue as Lakeview Espresso. Carrying only essential groceries, the focus has changed to food and coffee.
With all food made in house, it’s a well-selected, regularly changing menu to maintain fresh, seasonal and local ingredients, comprising all day and lighter breakfasts with lunches of burgers, melts and salads. Plenty to choose from!
With another chef on board to work with Dylan, everything is baked or made in house except for Brasserie Bread’s exceptional sourdough (proven for 48 hours to digest far more easily) and Nobu’s fabulous patisserie.
With both Dylan and Kira valuing healthy food, they’re also keen to cater for food preferences and intolerances, so there are many vegan, vegetarian and GF options available without making an issue of it.
Even dishes that appear standard are given their own twist. The Rosti stack, for example, comprises a house-made sweet potato and potato cake (for lower GI), a sweet, citrussy hollandaise on the eggs balancing the bitterness of wilted spinach.
“Why would you buy dishes in when you don’t know what’s in them?” asks Dylan, adding that even their ‘Burleigh Beans’ are made in house.
“Healthy indulgence’ is the café’s motto, we notice as we gaze over the raw and baked cakes, slices and muffins lining the counter and glass-faced cabinets; house made, just like the granola.
“Who are your main patrons?” we ask.
Patronage is not just local, he tells us. It includes diners who are weekly regulars from Brisbane, stopping in for a meal and beach walk.
“We want to give people good food and coffee so they will come back,” Dylan tells us.
Obviously that works! There’s been a steady stream of people coming and going since we arrived.
I’ve already figured out that with such well-priced meals, a separate kids’ menu, free duck food, a view across the park and lake with Mt Warning as the backdrop and a dog-friendly policy, it’s an enticing place for young families as well as retirees.
“What we sell most is coffee,” Dylan says. “It’s an organic, ethically sourced and locally roasted Brazilian and Columbian mix, from the highlands on opposite sides of the border. I’ve hand-chosen this blend for its profile from Double or Nothing at Tyalgum, a roaster who speak directly to the farmer. It’s a ‘dark watery cacao’, not sweet, but with the complex flavours of South American chocolate. Its smooth caramel tones with butterscotch brittle go well black or with milk, with savoury or sweet dishes. And if you love our coffee, we also sell the beans,” he adds.
Dylan’s talking coffee like I talk wine. He’s a keen advocate of blending science with cooking, pouring me a milk-free latte whose froths rises slowly just like a Guinness. I’ve never seen anything like it!
“Everything is a mathematical equation – taste and flavor profiles, quantities,” he tells us. “We follow recipes because it’s about maintaining high quality and consistency in our food and coffee. That’s why I’m waiting on our new coffee machine, a San Remo Café Racer – the most consistent coffee machine in the world.”
Dylan’s got a solid food knowledge which he’s keen to pass on, and we launch into a health and nutrition conversation that could last for hours…until a queue starts to form at the counter and he excuses himself.
There have been fabulous changes made to this café since we first visited. What it has retained is the laid back, organic down-to-earth feel; a place where locals stop in to pick up a coffee and paper while walking their dogs, greet each other by name, sit and have breakfast overlooking the lake, where artists hang their work for sale… There should be a place like this in every community, we think.
Across in the park swans and ducks wander into the playground waiting to be fed. There’s a tranquility here that makes the place hard to leave and easy to come back to. Yes, Lakeview may be a modest little establishment, but let’s not underestimate its point of difference: the range of clients it caters for with a house-made menu and an original twist.
In my head I’m already planning a weekend brekkie here with GF/DF family members. The thought of avoiding queues, catering for food preferences and enjoying the friendliness of a transformed local corner store is too great a temptation to pass up!
Shop 1, 100 Burleigh Street, Burleigh Waters, Ph: 07 5535 9082
Open: Tues – Sun 6am – 3pm (Kitchen 7am – 1.45pm)
NOTE: A previous version of this review has also been published on Blank Gold Coast. On one occasion, Good Food Gold Coast dined as guests of Lakeview Espresso.
Review updated July 2017.