For Love Not Money - It's a philosophy that I am sure we would all love to live by, but sometimes in this day and age it is a wee bit difficult to put into practice. However I met someone last weekend who is living by that ethos. His name is James, and both he and his family have created an amazing child friendly "caface" (my new term for a cafe space) in the heart of St Peters. It's a cafe that is for both "big and little people", and it is a cafe that gives back to the local community within which it operates. Grab a coffee my lovelies, and sit back and relax so that I can tell you why I think Little Tastes Cafe is the bomb!
Little Tastes occupies a prime location in St Peter's Plaza which is smack bang next to St Peter's Train Station and right across the road from Sydney Park. We rocked up bright and early on a Saturday morning to Little Munch Little Tastes! Obviously you can arrive by train, or if you are like us and arrive by car, you can park in either of the Sydney Park's car parks, with the one next to the playground being the best option. There is also some limited (call it lucky) parking available on Goodsell St, just behind the cafe.
As soon as we arrived we were warmly greeted by some of the friendliest hospitality staff that I have met in a long time. A very tall chap (who I later found out was the owner James) asked the boys if they wanted to paint and of course they did (their nasty mother doesn't let them do it at home). Saturday is paint day at Little Tastes. The boys were shown into the courtyard at the back of the cafe and before I knew it, they were smocked up in an old T shirt, they had paint brushes in hand, and they let out their inner Picasso on the wall of the courtyard. A delightful lass called Josie from Holland (who is a qualified teacher) is employed specifically on Saturdays to look after the kids in the courtyard so that parents can hopefully eat their brunch in peace. Just to let you know Josie cleans up all the mess and the wall is painted white again during the week in time for Saturday! Such a simple but smart idea to keep kids entertained.
Now if you visit during the week or if you don't like your kids to get messy with paint (what tha!) head inside the cafe and you will find the Kids Corner. There are heaps of books, toys and games to keep kids occupied as well as loads of chalk, and they can basically scribble on whatever they want and the staff won't bat an eyelid because this place is all about the kids. So if you prefer your cafes with no children, I would suggest you head up the road to one of the hundred odd other cafes along King St in Newtown. There is plenty of room for prams in the outdoor seating area but not so much inside. High chairs are readily available and there are toilet facilities in the courtyard that have a baby change table. We sat outside and enjoyed the plane, train & automobile spotting opportunities happening around us, and I think it's the best spot to sit back and take it all in.
Whilst the boys were busy painting every square inch of the wall (apologies to those that arrived after us and found that all the white space had disappeared) I had a chat to James the owner, about his little treasure. James used to be a corporate guy. And even though the money was good, the self esteem wasn't and he was sick and tired of not spending time with his ladies (his gorgeous wife & two girls). So he quit his job. For a while he had been thinking that the area around Sydney Park lacked an affordable place to eat out for breeders (his word not mine) and without any previous experience he decided to open a cafe that would welcome both big and little people and that would also make a positive contribution to the local community. He wanted to show his children that you can be in business and not be greedy and that is how Little Tastes was born.
James has big plans for Little Tastes. Even though I think the cafe is pretty darn amazing as it is, here are some of the things on James' "to do list":
James is also keen to the get local youth, indigenous youth in particular, into the cafe and behind the pans in the form of offering traineeships. He wants to inspire and nurture local talent to help them show their true colours and show off good wholesome food with indigenous flavours. Again, it is about giving back to the local community within which Little Tastes operates. For Love Not Money keeps coming back to me. Whilst most businesses today are all about revenues, profit and shareholder return, this business seems to be entirely about giving!
The photos in this review will show you how welcoming of people Little Tastes is, but what you can't see is what happens "out of hours" so to speak. Besides sponsoring loads of local kids sporting teams, Little Tastes also help locals who are doing it tough. On a Saturday evening once all of their regular punters have gone home to their cosy little lives, the kitchen at Little Tastes uses any left overs to feed people who are sleeping rough across the road in Sydney Park. And to be honest I think they help out whenever the opportunities arise, because I noticed James sneak a egg and bacon roll plus a coffee to a guy down the lane way from the cafe who had obviously fallen on hard times.
So with our kidlets happily occupied painting and drawing, it was time for our caffeine fix. Cristian the barista is a man who knows his craft - his coffees are brewing brilliance! Not only did our skim flat whites taste perfect but the latte art on top of them was incredible. We had 4 coffees between us and each one was designed differently - my panda bear was a bit of a standout! Now the coffees are cheap - $3 for a regular, and $3.50 for a large!! And babycinos are free with any coffee order. Have you seen those prices anywhere else in Sydney lately? If you just want a takeaway there is a hole in the wall of the cafe where you place your order and you can be on your merry caffeinated way.
As the boys were too busy painting and drawing, I chose their breakfast for them and I'm pleased to report that there weren't any complaints because both items were just so good. The fruit salad came as a cute smiley face and it was quickly gobbled up except for the dragonfruit eyes - couldn't quite convince them to eat that. And those pancakes, well they were also hoovered down so that the boys could get back to Josie and the painting! Where ever possible they have tried to eliminate any added sugar to the kids meals on the menu, they just want to serve healthy yet tasty meals for our little people.
If you think the price of coffee is good, then check out the food on the menu! I am so over paying around $20 for breakfast and definitely over paying more than $10 for my kids meals. The most expensive item on the menu at Little Tastes is $14.00. And for that you receive a huge big breakfast with all the trimmings. Don't worry small prices don't mean small portions. Toni the chef dishes up big meals that are big on taste as well as some sweet little morsels that will have kids of all ages begging for more. I do believe the boys might have sampled a love heart cookie with sprinkles before they had their brekkie! Oh and make sure you try the banana bread - it's made daily in house with less sugar than the commercial loaves you see in every other cafe across Sydney - it looked and smelt amazing.
With the boys happily back in the care of Josie, Mr Munch and I settled in to enjoy our yummy breakfast. I chose the Corn Fritters with Avocado Salsa & Smoked Salmon ($12) - this was such a great combination of flavours. The fritters perhaps could have done with a few more corn kernels, but I'm probably just being a greedy guts saying that. Mr Munch is still marvelling that his Bacon & Eggs with Roast Tomato and Toast only cost him $8!! It is seriously brilliant value and I should also let you know that if you eat gluten free bread, it is available and you won't pay anything extra for it, unlike so many other joints in this big city of ours. They want to be able to accommodate as many dietary requirements as possible, all you have to do is tell one of staff members what your needs are and they will do their best to help you out.
I have to say our experience at Little Tastes was about as close to perfection as you can get when eating out with kids. We drank beautiful coffee and ate yummy food, we received awesome service and our kids were completely occupied. I do believe the husband even got a read of the papers in (I was too busy people watching). When we started to feel a bit guilty for occupying our table for too long we tried to drag the kids out of the courtyard - that proved to be a wee bit difficult. The only thing that worked was bribery - Picasso and Matisse would only leave if we promised to take them to the playground.
I am sure you are going to have to visit the playground across the road in Sydney Park as well, after you have finished at Little Tastes. For those of you who haven't been there before, Sydney Park has a brilliant playground with some really cool equipment and awesome sand pits, there are also loads of walking tracks and the newly completed wetlands viewing areas are the perfect spot to check out some local bird life. There is also an excellent kid's bike track so pack the scooters and bikes and let the kids off the leash to have a ton of fun.
James is a passionate man with big plans for his little cafe. He's got me hooked, I can't wait to go back to Little Tastes and see how it evolves. He also has my 3 boys hooked. The little men asked me both mornings since our visit to Little Tastes if we can go and visit Josie (they have serious crushes) and do some more painting, and the big man, Mr Munch has declared that it's the best value breakfast in all of Sydney.
It is most definitely all about love at Little Tastes, but we need to make sure they have enough money to continue that love. And the best way we can do that is by placing our backsides firmly on every seat in the cafe. If you are a breeder - spread the word and lets make sure this fabulous little cafe is around for a very long time x
***SINCE OUR REVIEW LITTLE TASTES ONLY OPENS MON - FRI, 6AM - 3PM.
ON WEEKENDS THEY HOST PARTIES***
641 King St, St Peters NSW 2044
0403 993 848
Open Mon - Fri: 6am - 3pm
Sat -Sun: parties