Out on the north western outskirts of Sydney you will find the lovely village-like suburb of Kenthurst. The suburb is full of tree lined streets, magnificent shacks and a delightful new cafe called the Hidden Jem. I believe the owner of this lovely light and airy cafe is called Jemma, hence the name. The cafe can be found in the local village shops and it is also right across the road from a park (with a cute playground). In the short time that the cafe has been trading it has become very popular with locals from all walks of life, so much so that it can be hard to score a table on weekends - especially if you arrive at the popular brunch time of 10am like we did on our first visit. So my suggestion for you all is to arrive early - they are open from 6am during the week and 7am on weekends, which ideal for families who rise with the mud larks!
Hidden Jem is perfectly set up for families. Firstly, there is a heap of parking, both on the street and also behind the shops. From your parking spot you can easily push your pram straight into the cafe and as the tables in the cafe aren't jam packed together like in so many cafes these days, you will be able to park it next to your table. And if you can't be bothered getting your beast of a pram out of the car, they also have high chairs for little bottoms to be secured in. The toilet facilities for the shops are out the back near the car park, but they don't contain a baby change table - when we used these, one was open and the other locked, so you may need to ask a member of staff for a key.
Kidlets will have great fun running around in the courtyard in front of the cafe or busying themselves with the colouring in provided by the cafe, or just making friends with other little diners like kids can so easily do. You do have to order and pay at the front counter for your meal, but because of the open design of Hidden Jem you won't lose sight of your kids whilst you are inside handing over your moula.
With the offspring occupied you can sit back and enjoy one of Hidden Jem's expertly made Toby's Estate Coffees. The spunky young barista certainly knows his craft and in case you have issues with milk they also offer soy, almond and lactose free options too, which is brilliant to see. And for little ones the babycinos with sprinkles for 50c, will no doubt put a smile on their little dials. Like nearly every other cafe in Sydney at the moment they are also pumping out freak shakes except that the Little Jem call them killer shakes and they will set you back ten bucks. The cafe is open until 4pm weekdays, so I'm thinking they would make for a perfect after school treat!
The Little Jem has a little menu for Little Jems that includes Choc Chip Pancakes with ice cream, strawberries & maple syrup ($8); Mums Toastie with ham, cheese & tomato ($8); or Nuggets & Chips ($10). Our lads shared the pancakes for breakfast and the staff very kindly split the boys breakfast between two plates in the kitchen for us.
The staff were actually brilliant the whole time we were at the Hidden Jem. They were engaging and accommodating with both the boys and us. It did help too that there were only a handful of diners when we visited for the second time (the first time we only had takeaways).
So what did we eat? Well as I'm a sucker for anything with haloumi on it, I went for the Avo Smash ($17) that was served up on rye toast, with poached eggs, grilled tomato and two pieces of perfectly cooked haloumi - and it was the most delicious way to start the day that's for sure. I loved the addition of the sweet potato crisps on top. The Little Jem also serve haloumi in their Breakfast Salad. Spinach, strawberries, walnuts & avo are also in this dish and the salad is dressed with a pomegranate dressing - sounds kind of interesting for breakfast doesn't it?
Mr Munch had Eggs Your Way ($18) which actually is like a big breakfast - eggs, bacon, hash brown, mushies, sausage & spinach with toast. The portion size was very generous and in quite a few other cafes in the district this sort of breakfast costs north of $20! Waffles, granola, bacon & egg rolls are also on the menu at breakfast time. For lunch you can munch on a very healthy sounding Vegie Patch Salad or S & P Squid, Burgers or a Schnitty Wrap. But what I think would be a nice thing to do would be to share the Cheese Platter for 2 - a selection of cheeses, fruits and pastes with crackers (and if you are really smart you will drop into the bottle shop across the courtyard for a cold bottle of Savvy B to enjoy with it!).
After your visit to the Hidden Jem you'll obviously have to pop across the road to check out the pretty park. The brightly coloured play equipment, which includes a very sweet looking doll house is maintained by the local Rotary club. They take great pride in their neighbourhood that's for sure - the park is fully fenced and has toilets, BBQs and picnic shelters and it is so very clean. And if the Hidden Jem is full to the brim with other fambams, you can always grab takeaways and head over here.
The Hidden Jem won't be hidden for very long amongst Sydney's foodie set. This part of north western Sydney has such a burgeoning food scene, especially thanks to some cool new cafes in neighbouring Dural swinging open their doors. So my advice is to arrive early to score a table so that you can enjoy this delightful little jem x
4 Nelson St, Kenthurst
Mon - Fri: 6am - 4pm
Sat - Sun: 7am - 3pm