When it comes to a long lunch, location is everything. The best time to appreciate a waterfront view, a carefully manicured garden or a lofty position in a skyscraper is not after dark, but in full sun. And while you drink in the surroundings, you may as well order another glass of wine, because what’s a long lunch without a little day drinking?
While the CBD is a prime location for a weekday lunch, there are also a bunch of places rocking the suburbs for a midday meal, and top of the list in the Inner West is the Acre, the restaurant set up inside an urban farm where the Camperdown Bowling Club used to be. Yep, you heard us. Someone has tilled the earth where the bowling greens once lay and built a spacious, breezy restaurant in the middle.
The farm itself is a not-for-profit run by Pocket City Farms and you can attend workshops in the kitchen gardens, which are so fruitful that they have a garden stall every Saturday selling off those extra beans, chillis and tomatoes. Stock up after a yoga class among the greenery.
The restaurant is a different story: a lot less dungarees-and-green-thumbs than it is blow- waves-and-white-linen. It’s popular with retirees and young families and for largely the same reasons: it’s elegant, spacious, delicious and accessible.
Off to one side you have springy grass for kids to roll around on under big shady lawn umbrellas, and inside it looks like a holiday interiors spread: neutral palette, timber decking and decorative ceramics with eucalyptus sprigs in them.
Let someone else be the designated driver so that you can order up a savoury Bloody Mary with that bright, high spice level from jalapeños. Or tint your afternoon with glasses of rosé with a dry, tart red fruit character.
Now that you are properly in the swing of this whole long-lunch caper it’s time to linger over the Acre salad. It’s a nutritious rubble of freekeh, lentils, parsley and radish with hummus and avocado as a dual-action creamy anchor. We’d have liked the eggplant lengths to have enjoyed more time under the grill to take them from chewy to tender.
We have a better time with the fish of the day, which, on our visit, is a crisp skinned blue mackerel. Some people might pooh-pooh this oily fish, but these guys focus on secondary cuts and sustainable practices when sourcing their proteins and they know how to use what they have to its full capacity. They balance those strong fish flavours with a zippy walnut and rocket pesto, briny sea vegetables and sharp pickled cucumbers.
Colourful bounty is how we’d describe the menu here, much of which is sourced from the surrounding garden beds. You’ve got sunset-hued tomato and goat-curd salad and sour cherry cheesecake spearheaded by bright citrus and sweet, peaky Italian meringue. Everything they’re doing here shows care and attention and it’ll keep you in your chair long after you should have headed back to reality. That’s the power of a great lunch spot.