The sky is darkening but it has been a lovely spring day. The temperature was predicted to be 25 C and I am sure it got to that (NB: since writing this, I have seen it was a record breaking 30 C). In fact, I am sure it was a lot hotter than that in our car. It was t-shirt weather, café weather, bike riding weather! We met my friend Will and headed off to the Old Fire Station Café Gallery in Preston.
I love old buildings and, if they can’t be used for their original use, I do enjoy a transformation into a funky café. The doors are still the huge doors that the fire engines would fly out of in an emergency and give a sense of what the building might have been like in its heyday. The walls are the original naked red brick (if the brick bonding is anything to go by – one of my esoteric interests when a student) and serve as exhibition space for artwork. But now the place has a large blackboard menu, a glass display cabinet of yummy food, and a sundry assortment of retro chic laminex tables and chairs. There are also outdoor areas and a few comfy armchairs.
I plonked Sylvia, in her little blue floral sun bonnet, on the table to play with Will and went to order. I had looked up the place on the web and seen an intriguing dish called 'the King'. It was a fried banana and peanut butter sandwich with bacon and maple syrup. But on the board it didn’t say it had bacon. Being a suspicious vegetarian I asked if it had bacon. No, I was told. So I ordered it, even though they seemed a bit confused with 'the Elvis' which was a fried banana and peanut butter sandwich.
When my meal came it was topped with a generous helping of bacon. Oh no, I assured them, I was told there was no bacon. So they took it away and brought back a freshly fried sandwich. But this time I looked at the little dish on the side, dipped my finger in it for a taste and said it was honey not maple syrup. They took it away again. I was beginning to feel like a difficult customer but I only wanted what I had seen on the menu. Finally it arrived and I could tuck in.
I ordered the dish because I am very partial to maple syrup, and this dish was quite different to my usual vegie breakfast. It was very heavy and rich but I enjoyed the combination of flavours. I think a properly indulgent vegetarian alternative should have cheese as well, but, hey, that wasn’t on the menu.
The little pile of greens at the side made me laugh. Who were they kidding that these could make any dint on the greasy, syrupy sandwich. I ignored the greens and tried to make amends by ordering a banana and berry smoothie. This came in a large glass that Sylvia would have loved to get her paws on. The waitress showed her sense of humour when we asked what was sprinkled on top of the smoothie. Dirt, she joked, with a laugh and then told us it was cinnamon.
E and Will wisely chose more healthy meals than I. E had the Fireman’s Feast and enjoyed the fry up except that the baked beans were luke warm rather than hot. Will had a rather tasty looking vegetarian pasta with pumpkin and feta cheese.
We then decided to have something sweet to finish up. I had a lemon slice, E had a yo-yo (or melting moment) and Will had a vanilla slice. There were some chunky muffins but I would have liked a few cakes to choose from. The lemon slice was nice but a bit too much lemon for me, and I left all the icing for E and Will to pick at.
On the way home I asked E if he would go back there. No, he said. He didn’t like the service because of my experience with the King. While I never appreciate being served meat, I thought the service was prompt and friendly. I hope I will be back but I might need to omit to tell E where we are going. Will had been to the cafe before and I am sure he will be back.
The Old Fire Station Café Gallery
378 High St, Preston, 3072
Phone: 03 94712100