I'm not a fan of chain cafes. Mostly I find their coffee tasteless and their food even worse. They always seem to be located in shopping centres and lack a bit of soul. I also believe whole heartedly in supporting small businesses, so whenever possible I always spend Little Munch's hard earned cash at an independent cafe. But there is always an exception to the rule......
On Monday mornings I trek out to the wild blue yonder of Annangrove to take my babes swimming. Now there aren't many cafes out that way and last Monday we had a visitor with us - my sassy sista from Singapore. She promised the little bulls if they did their very best at swimming that we would go to a playground on the way home and also have some morning tea. Singapore is a foodies paradise so I was a bit concerned as to where we could go to impress my sassy sista. Our choice was either McDonalds/Hungry Jacks (clearly not an option) or to stop into the Rouse Hill Town Centre (RHTC). I had been to the RHTC a few years ago but had never really been impressed by the cafes there, so I was hoping that a little gem may have popped up that we could get a takeaway coffee from, whilst we watched the boys in the playground.
Now RHTC is not your ordinary shopping centre. It's basically out in the open and you wander down little streets like you would if you were in a town. So therefore you have natural light guiding you and none of those hideous lighting tricks that they employ in Westfields and the like. We found the "Backyard" playground after wandering around for a wee while (actually we just followed all of the yummy mummies with the bugaboos) and low and behold it was right next to a little gem - a relatively new looking Oliver Brown Belgian Chocolate Cafe. Yes it is a chain cafe but it is an exception to the rule!
We deposited the little lads into the Backyard and we nabbed an outside seat at Oliver Brown (along with all of those yummy mummies - question: how do they look so good so early in the morning?). Sitting outside you can kinda keep an eye on your children in the playground - well actually only if they try to escape. So if you aren't a helicopter parent you can safely order in at the counter and sit outside and people watch. If you are a HP than you will need to get a takeaway and sit inside the playground along one of the bench seats provided.
The playground is large, colourful and suitable for kids from about 2 years and up. If you have little ones, you will probably need to be in there with them, as there are loads of raucous young toddlers throwing their body weight around (no doubt all high on Belgian chocolate). Also if your kids are good climbers they can easily get out of the playground by climbing over the mosaic wall into Oliver Brown. We witnessed a yummy mummy losing her precious little possum as he climbed over the wall and escaped into a nearby toy shop whilst she was busy comparing personal trainers with her BFF.
Now back to Oliver Brown. It is actually kinda hip in comparison to most chain cafes. The interior incorporates an olive green and brown colour scheme. French bistro chairs, industrial lighting and mosaic walls combine for an almost cool décor. There is plenty of space for all of those bugaboos and just across from the cafe is a family room where you can breastfeed in private, change your bub and there is also a secure play area for your little ones.
The menu at Oliver Brown is suitable mainly for morning or afternoon tea. Loads of little cakes, biscuits, muffins, macarons and more decadent treats such as chocolate fondue, waffles and churros (I didn't see any of these pass the lips of all those yummy mummies). If you want something a wee bit more substantial you can have an all day big breakfast or a bacon & egg roll and at lunch time they serve paninis. They also have a meal deal for kiddies - burger/nuggets/calamari with chips and a drink for $8.00.
Now to be honest, the coffee was decent and the babycino was brilliant - the right amount of tepid froth with 2 marshmallows, a few wee little choc chips and a squiggle of melted Belgian chocolate - quite good value for $1.50. But Oliver Brown is more the place to order a decadent hot chocolate or an inspired iced chocolate like an OB Choc Mojito.
So dear Parents if you find yourself out in the wild blue yonder of NW Sydney, I highly recommend that you let go of any preconceptions you may have of chain cafes and join all of those skinny latte sipping yummy mummies and enjoy a luscious hot Belgian chocolate with freshly baked churros, dripping in divine melted Belgian chocolate whilst your kids play in the Backyard x
Rouse Hill Town Centre Windsor Rd Rouse Hill NSW 2155
Tel - 02 88147917
Open 7 days 8.00am - 10.30pm