My sister teaches in the International School circuit overseas and she is always telling me how great her schools' "parent" cafes are. See, these schools normally have a cafe where parents can hang out and gossip after school drop off. Teachers can also pop in for coffees and something to eat (normally only when the pesky parents have gone home although). Anyway I've been thinking there must be a buck or two to be made at schools here in Australia - even if there was just a coffee cart near each school drop off. Unfortunately my son's school doesn't have one, but I have discovered that there is one school in North Ryde that does. And the cafe is right on its doorstep - it's actually been made out of 2 of the school's unused classrooms!
The Flame Cafe is located smack bang next to the Holy Spirit Primary School in North Ryde. The local parish wanted to create something for their community, and decided that the cafe (and also the gift shop next to it) would be a great idea. It's kind of like a social enterprise cafe with style. Look how fabulous the red furniture and banquette seating look! And whilst you're sitting there sipping your skim decaf soy latte, you may well also observe a few religious artefacts on the walls and shelves to help get you in the spirit.
You will find Flame Cafe in the Coxs Rd shops in North Ryde. There is a reasonable amount of parking available on the street in front of the cafe (I presume it would be best to avoid arriving at the same time as school drop/pick up however). You can access the cafe very easily with a pram or wheelchair as there are ramps available and there are big wide doors at the entrances to the cafe. If the weather is nice you can sit outside at one of the many tables and there is even a little container of water for doggies. However in my opinion the best spot to sit for those of you with little ones is inside, especially on a hot day - because it is air-conditioned.
Flame Cafe ticks all of my Little Munch kid friendly boxes - there are toilets on site that contain a baby change table; high chairs are available; staff are welcoming of families; there is easy access for prams to enter and also to be parked next to a table (it's a great mum's group cafe); there is a decent kids menu; and lastly there are kids activities in the form of a small play area.
There are two dining areas within the cafe and the secure play area is located in the bottom level near the front counter. My boys are probably getting a bit too big for this sort of play room but as there weren't any other kidlets around, I let them give it the once over. The chalk board was their favourite but I'm sure little ones will be happy to snuggle up to the cuddly toys (and yes they all looked very clean unlike some other cafe's toy boxes we have road tested). There is also a TV in here, but it wasn't on, but there was another TV in the dining area near where we sat, which was showing a kids show at a low volume.
Flame Cafe caters very well for little humans. They will most certainly fall in love with the Flame's milkshakes! These little beauties are up there with the best we have seen for kids and will cost you $3.50. I've also heard that their babycino is equally as cute, and we will go back another day to road test this. On the kids menu you will find a boiled egg with soldier toast, baked beans on toast, bacon & egg on toast or nuggets & chips and hallelujah the meals are reasonably priced at $6.00. There are also other options on the main menu that will satisfy little bellies such as toasted cheese & tomato sandwiches and banana bread. If you are just dropping by for a sweet treat, the cake cabinet has the sweetest range of baby cupcakes that will place a smile on the dial of your offspring, and they have some yummy versions for us bigger humans.
Parents will be very happy with the main menu as it too, is reasonably priced ($4.00 - $15.50). Whether you are after a simple bowl of soup or a full on burger and chips there is something to satisfy all of the vores (carni, herbi & omni!). The toasted Mediterranean foccacia was my choice for lunch and it hit the spot perfectly. Some other yummy lunch time options that tickled my fancy, include garlic prawns with crusty bread or the Moroccan lamb burger with roasted peppers, tzatziki & salad. And for breakfast the macadamia muesli with natural yoghurt, berry compote and honey or the breakfast bruschetta with ricotta, avocado, tomatoes & bacon sound delish. The day we visited was over 40 degrees, so I I opted for my caffeine fix to come out of a can (diet coke) and not an espresso machine, so I cannot comment on the quality of the coffee but will no doubt be back to visit some time soon when the weather isn't so darn hot.
Before I finish, I need to comment on the service - it was just lovely. I'm not sure if the staff are volunteers or members of the local parish or not, but they were both efficient and super sweet. Being such a hot day the cafe was not overly busy so of course we received our meals quickly, which is a bonus when dining with kids.
So tell me dear Little Munchers, does your local school have a cafe like Flame, or even a coffee cart? Or should I be starting up a franchise?!
Shop 1,195 Coxs Rd, North Ryde
Open Mon - Fri: 7am - 4pm
Sat - Sun: 7am - 3pm