If there was a British version of ‘The Castle’, it would be titled ‘The Allotment’.
There’s a whole history to this word in post-war Britain: a plot of land that may be either rented or ‘allotted’ to people, not only giving them purpose in life, but also supplementing the family table and even producing a modest income.
Locally and hyper-local produce is the inspiration behind The Allotment Café at The Hub in Reedy Creek.
“Everything grown within a 200 km radius of the café, with herbs grown on site,” says UK-born owner/chef Simon Capewell. “That’s what I want to do in The Allotment.”
The café is at the opposite end of the hospitality spectrum to Simon’s former positions. While Executive Chef of The Langham Hotel Melbourne, his eyes were opened by an exchange with The River Café London, where herbs, salads and edible flowers grown on site inspire a world-class menu.
“I’ve always wanted to do something of quality – an allotment that has breakfast and lunch, expanding to one dinner per fortnight and perhaps some popups with other chefs,” he says.
The venue may seem humble enough to overlook…that is until we taste his dishes: Mixed mushrooms with pomegranate on sourdough with two free-range eggs and whipped goat’s cheese ($12) and House-cured salmon with citrus salad, avocado mousse and crispy fried kale presented in a mason jar, tendrils of smoke seeping out when the ‘pandora’ jar is opened ($14).
It’s understated and over-delivered in the best possible way; a theatrical dining experience for several senses.
Simon shares with us his recipe for Salsa Verde. Use it as a sauce, for dipping or flavouring on meat or seafood, tacos, as a sauce on eggs, with rice, add to minestrone, to jazz up roast or even steamed vegetables, or as a dressing – it’s “the bright, punchy green sauce that wakes up just about everything it touches.”
1 cup flatleaf parsley leaves
1 cup basil leaves
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 tsp capers, drained
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
Place parsley, basil, garlic and capers in a food processor. Process until finely chopped.
With the motor running, add oil and 2 tablespoons lemon juice to parsley mixture. Process until well combined. Season with sea salt and pepper. Stand for 10 minutes. Serve with barbecued lamb or fish.
The Allotment Café, 7/50 Woodlands Drive, Reedy Creek Ph: 0417 707 183