Canning River Cafe, Wilson
TFP Facebook page likers may remember earlier this year Jac and I had a picnic on Good Friday morning at Canning River Regional Park. Also known as Kent Street Weir Park, it's located at the end of Kent Street in Wilson. It's popular with the local community - when the weather's good you'll see kids in the playground and people jogging, walking their dogs, kayaking, or having a barbie. The park also boasts Canning River Cafe, which is open 7 days. It's the final destination for many a hungry kayaker after a morning paddle on the Canning River.
The cafe offers variations of poached eggs with hollandaise - the classic Benedict with eggs, leg ham and hollandaise (AU$18); Atlantic, with smoked salmon instead of ham (AU$20); Florentine, with spinach instead of ham or salmon (AU$15) or Jac's choice, the French, with Brie cheese and tomato, poached egg and hollandaise (AU$19). She ordered it with a side of bacon (AU$4).
On her previous visit and the first time she ordered this dish, the Brie was definitely present. The melty cheesiness was a big part of the dish's appeal and what made her order it again. This time however, there was no Brie to be found after we dismantled the layers to search beneath the hollandaise-smothered eggs and roasted tomato. By the time we realised the Brie was missing, Jac was reluctant to send the dish back because the cafe was now very busy; she'd begun eating and didn't want to have to stop eating and wait again. Hopefully this was a one-off. Despite the missing Brie, Jac enjoyed the dish and left barely a drop or crumb behind. Of course, the dish would've been even more delightful had the Brie been included.
I love bacon and eggs and breakfast fry-ups but usually find the vegetarian fry-up option comes with more interesting items - it's often the only dish on a breakfast menu to feature asparagus. Canning River Cafe's Vegetarian includes toasted cornbread, a homemade hash brown, mushrooms, juicy spinach, sweet roasted tomato and a poached egg. I couldn't ignore my carnivorous tendencies and also ordered a side of bacon. About that cornbread: there was nothing remotely yellow or corny about its looks, texture or taste - it was more like a nice light rye bread. Canning River Cafe should definitely consider switching to a cornier recipe/product - I had been really looking forward to the cornbread, and by the time I finished my breakfast, I was still craving cornbread. A smear of butter on the mystery toast would've also been most welcome. The wrinkly sweet roasted tomatoes were fantastic.
Every time I eat poached eggs I am reminded why I dislike them so much; most cooks add a splash of vinegar to the water to help the egg hold together as it poaches. Unfortunately, more often than not, I can taste that hint of vinegar in the egg, which isn't to my liking - the egg in my dish had that vinegar taint and yes, I regretted choosing a poached egg dish. I'd love to hear your thoughts on poached eggs - do any of you also avoid them because of the taste of vinegar?
We arrived at the cafe after 9am on a Saturday and it was busy. Jac had been to the Canning River Cafe previously on a weekday; it was quiet and pretty relaxed. On that day, customers helped themselves to menus and were told to take a seat wherever they pleased. We grabbed menus and were about to sit at an empty table when a staff member intercepted and asked, in quite a brusque tone, we thought, and without cracking a smile - "Have you got a booking?" (we didn't). It wasn't the best start. He ushered us to the counter seating, which in retrospect was probably preferable as this meant we got a great view of the park and river. Perhaps on weekends when it's busier and the staff need to more actively manage the tables i.e. a different 'system' is in place, they need one of those "Please wait to be seated" signs.
Edit: To clarify: we don't usually stride straight into a restaurant and take a seat unless we know that's the way they do things at a particular establishment; we'd wrongly assumed based on Jac's previous visit that the same informal 'system' was in place. It's not a question of being patient/impatient; it's about understanding the 'system' so we know what we're 'supposed' to do. In this case, "Please wait to be seated" signs would make quite a difference (most reasonable people will follow such instructions as long as they're upfront and clear) and it would assist staff in keeping track of and managing new arrivals as they enter from multiple directions (car park and park). I have no doubt the multiple entry points add additional challenge for the staff - even more reason to have clear instructions for patrons and make life easier for all involved.
With the park providing its picturesque setting, this cafe that opens 7am daily should be one of the City of Canning's gems. Generally speaking, we enjoyed our food, though it could be argued that for what you get on the plate, it's on the pricey side. I think most diners don't mind paying a bit more for good food, but it's hard not to be disappointed when little details aren't quite right. We're prepared give Canning River Cafe another go; we hope for a more satisfying experience next time.
Canning River Cafe
Canning River Regional Park
Corner of Kent Street and Queens Park Road, Wilson
(08) 9358 4884
Open 7 days
Monday to Friday: 7am to 4pm
Weekends: 7am to 5pm
Plenty of free parking available
Thank you to all who entered my UnWined WA competition. The winner will be chosen, contacted by email and hopefully announced later today.