When I went to Geraldton last week, I treated myself to lunch. This was only my second visit to the midwest city but I knew I wanted to try something new; something authenetic and real. Sure Dome is okay but it’s a chain restaurant and everything feels and tastes mass-produced.
As I meandered up and down Marine Terrace, I finally found myself nearing the northern end. Dome was in sight and I was beginning to picture myself sitting at a window seat over looking the turquoise water. But then, I passed a few sidewalk tables and a funky old bike that was wearing a colourful knitted jumper. It certainly got my attention.
There was an art gallery next door so I stopped there to read the notices staring at me from the large windows. I stole glances of the cafe to my right. It was called Salt Dish Cafe and it whispered my name.
I entered the cafe. There were several wooden tables full up with happy looking customers. I spied an available 2-seater beside the open kitchen and asked the waitress if I could sit. A quick glance of the one page menu and my chioce was made.
I ordered the fried spiced squid with green papaya salad and a decaf flat white (like a latte with less foam) then I asked where the toilets were. Yes, in Australia and New Zealand, we say toilet not washroom or bathroom. I grew up in Canada where this term is considered a bit vulgar. Or is it just within my family? Possibly.
I was directed to follow the tiny aisle between the open kitchen and the barister station. This led me through a small dish cleaning area then through to a quaint and dining area. There was a table of two ladies finishing their lunch but the other tables were free. I had a plan.
I went through the door labelled “Toilets” (there’s that word again) which eventually took me to a large backyard with a few more table sitting in the open sun. It wasn’t exactly a pretty setting but nonetheless, it was outdoors and amongst nature. I stuck with my plan to scoop up the available retro red 2-seater coach.
To my delight, it was still empty when I gathered my things from table #1 and relocated to the cosy room that looked like it had been untouched since 1958. My coffee arrived and the waitress set it on the coffee table in front of me.
The ladies at the other table prepared to pay the bill.
“I’ll get this one,” said lady #1.
“Oh, is it your turn?” asked lady #2
When they left, another lady quickly appeared and settled in to that corner table with the red bench. She ordered a piece of cake and said she was waiting for friends. One arrived soon after.
Another couple of women friends arrived with a small boy and sat at the table next to me. It was clear that this was the place for “ladies who lunch”.
My gluten-free meal arrived. It was a beautiful sight. The squid was lightly battered and delicately spiced. Not spicy at all. The salad consisted of gorgeous long curls of green papaya, vibrant carrot, spring onions and thick pieces of sauteed celery that still had a bit of crunch and topped with bright red slivers of chilli. Not only did it taste great, it looked stunning.
I’m a self-professed coffee snob so I can’t rate the coffee highly. It was a bit too milky for my liking but this is my most common complaint. Coffee in Australia is bloody expensive so to have to ask for a double shot (and then pay extra) is something I do not often do. I simple cannot find a better coffee than that from my own espresso machine at Cafe Morton. But nice try Salt Dish. It wasn’t terrible. Maybe next time I’ll try the tea!
When I first arrived, I couldn’t help but notice the dessert display near the coffee station. After my meal, I toddled back there to have a look. A friendly server pointed out all of the options but I knew straight away what I wanted: Pecan Pie.
As a Canadian living in the South Pacific, I feel there are not near enough sweet pies on offer. If you tell someone you’d like a piece of pie, you are going to get something with meat, cheese and gravy in it.
The pie came served cold with a dab of thick cream on the side. The crust was sweet and more like biscuit than traditional pastry. It was simply delicious. The pie filling was exactly how I expected: gooey but firm in the centre and oodles of pecans laid on top. I found out later that the crust was gluten-free. I would never have known. It was yummy yum yum.
The only downside to the whole experience was the buzzing of the flies. I was in shoo mode most of my mealtime. In Western Australia, it’s something that is hard to escape though.
Overall, I loved Salt Dish and when I go back to Geraldton, I will definitely be stopping in again. You should too!
How often do you treat yourself to lunch in a nice restaurant or cafe?