Queen Street Café
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A trailblazing Croydon café remains the go-to for good strong coffees, BLTs and shabby chic
Not so long ago, Queen Street, Croydon in Adelaide’s inner-northwest – technically a section of Elizabeth Street – was an overlooked, post-war shopping strip full of ‘For Lease’ signs and the echoes of trains rumbling past. Then, Croydon suddenly became cool. Quality real estate going cheap, excellent public transport and proximity to the CBD saw a wave of young families, artists, musos and hipsters moving in.
Call it gentrification, call it progress, call it inevitable… but it takes a certain vision to transform a suburb so utterly overlooked into somewhere so hip. Today, Queen Street is host to retro antique shops, bakeries, delis, hairdressers, yoga studios and cafés, the visionary first – and still the best – of which is Queen Street Café.
Rambling through two gorgeous old Art Deco shopfronts, the place is arty, retro and disarmingly dishevelled, with wide, battered old floorboards, colourful canvasses and a huge Modiglianiesque mural of a woman in a headscarf reading with her head on a cushion. If she could use a coffee, she’s in the right place – the brew here is smooth and potent.
Food-wise, the menu breaks into breakfast, mains and sandwiches categories, all of which are available all day. We kick off with the gap-filling haloumi breakfast, with finger-thick asparagus and golden eggs, served on chewy rye sourdough. The house-made pesto is a thick mix, a little slippery with a hint of bitterness. A glorified BLT also takes our fancy: bacon, tomato, provolone, cos and tangy capsicum relish on a long doorstop of pide. Like the haloumi, it’s generous and lusty: these guys don’t count calories.
Less successful is the beetroot, feta and quinoa salad, served with dill, baby spinach, red onion and roast capsicum. It’s certainly better for our cholesterol levels than our other selections, but texturally it’s a tad too oily and wet.
‘Can-do’ staff work the room to a soundtrack of Angus & Julia Stone, the Doors and old Bowie. The clientele is largely couples and small contingents of friends, sitting outside on sunny footpath tables or inside on the central communal table or peripheral couches.
We’re not up for anything alcoholic this early in the day, but there’s a tight list of wines by the glass or bottle available (the Adelaide Hills sparkling almost tempts us), plus bottled craft, local and imported beers. We order another couple of flat whites instead and thumb through the local real-estate pages.