Vanessa: We really are spoilt for choice in Sydney with the vast array of cafes and restaurants at arms reach no matter the location. We have never let distance deter our food adventures so when an opportunity to visit Audley Dance Hall Cafe at the Royal National Park arose, we were on it. Now it’s not that much of a distance from me (as it is for Bianca) as I discovered, a mere 30 minute drive from my house and we were entering the beautiful national park.
I have to admit I haven’t spent much time there which I will rectify now that I’ve discovered not only its beauty but also the lovely Audley Dance Hall cafe. A $12 fee gives you all day entry to the park and there is ample parking nearby the cafe. The cafe is located by the river where I imagine in the summer months is teaming with people on kayaks and paddle boats (all available to hire at the boat shed).
The cafe is large with ample outdoor seating which is both covered and uncovered. We arrived at 11am on a Saturday and its was heaving with people (so clearly we are late to the party on this one!)
They offer a breakfast menu until 11:30, followed by a lunch menu which is available 7 days a week. We had strategically arrived at a time that would allow us to order both from the breakfast and lunch menu…there was no chance of us missing out on the pancakes!
We had our regular crew with us (mumma squads, Mr M and baby V) so there was plenty of menu sampling opportunities.
Of course no brunch can commence without a coffee and I was pleased mine was brought out piping hot and well brewed. Cold pressed juices are available, pre-bottled and very refreshing.
Mumma Squads went left of field with her order of the Okonomiyaki ($17.50). This is a Korean style brown rice & kimchi omelette served with miso mayonnaise, pickled wakame, cabbage & coriander slaw with a fried egg. It has a very robust texture with all the different elements. Personally I found it to be quite a filling dish and not something I would naturally gravitate towards. Presentation was on point and if okonomiyaki is your thing then give it a go.
Bianca went with the trusty double bacon & eggy, the classic! ($12). Crispy bacon & fried egg sandwiched between a soft milk roll with house barbecue sauce & aioli. The egg was oozing and the bacon well-cooked, this is a sure thing!
The pièce de résistance on the breakfast menu is absolutely the buttermilk pancakes ($17)! This fluffy, thick stack is loaded with plum sauce, white chocolate mascarpone, poached quince & candied macadamias. The taste is reminiscent of a cinnamon donut with an outstanding fluffy texture. The tart flavor of quince is well offset with the subtle sweetness of the marscapone. These are a winner and a must try!
As you can see Baby V also thoroughly enjoyed the pancakes!
Moving on to the lunch time offerings..
Mr M went for the 5 Hour braised lamb shoulder ($28.50) This was served alongside Israeli couscous, smoked eggplant yoghurt, chilli saffron butter, walnut, pomegranate & mint salsa. As an overall dish it is a solid choice with all elements working nicely together, although I was a little perturbed by the texture of the lamb as it has been braised, shredded then remoulded.
I went with the Gnocchi ($24). These are house made & pan fried, with a mixed mushroom ragu, cavalo nero, shaved parmesan & crispy potato skins. Again as an overall dish, the ingredients are delicious, particularly the combo of mushrooms and cavalo nero. We all agreed though that the gnocci were too soft and needed to be firmer.
A serving of sweet potato fries ($10.50) on the side for good measure did not disappoint…nor did the classic malt milkshake!
We finished up and allowed some time to enjoy the beautiful surroundings. There is something quite special about the national park so do take time to enjoy it. I highly recommend paying a visit to Audley Dance Hall cafe, it’s a lovely place to whittle away some hours and as the weather warms up I image it will be a hot spot.
*For Foods Sake dined as guest of Audley Dance Hall Cafe