Saturday, 13 September 2014

Breakfast Series - The Shady Palms Cafe

Back in the day, there was a powerhouse precinct that had it all, discount shops, cafes and quite a happening scene.  It was a place where on Saturday mornings, there was a vibe, it felt real and just a little bit edgy.  That place was Stones Corner and for a while, it was almost everyone's go-to spot for cheap clothing and a good feed. Then, one day, it wasn't.

For years, Stones Corner languished as a forgotten location, there seemed to be more 'to let' signs in the windows of the shops than shops themselves.  At times, it felt a little bit like a ghost town.  I'm not gonna say that it was the introduction of the discount outlet store DFO, but it was around it's opening that things started to go awry.  Coincidence, perhaps.....

Languish as it might, Stones Corner was not forgotten and over time it has started to transform again, away from its bargain basement factory outlet days into more of a mature setting with cafes and bars.  It might be said that that transformation, while not complete, was kicked along by an enterprising young couple who'd turned to reality TV to help speed up their dream of being in the food industry and opening their own restaurant.  Bec Saul and Mal Gill took to season two of My Kitchen Rules, and while they didn't take out the prize, the exposure was enough for them to open up their very first restaurant.

It might have seemed like a strange choice to open their first restaurant at Stones Corner, which at the time was at perhaps it's lowest ebb, Bec and Mal must have seen something that others didn't. Lady Marmalade was their first restaurant, which quickly became an oasis in an otherwise desolate location.  Success often leads to more success, and after a few short years, it was time to crack on with another cafe/restaurant and since they'd been so insightful with their first cafe, stuck with Stones Corner for their second.

Shady Palms is perhaps an evolution from Lady Marmalade's simple fare, with now full time restauranteur Mal Gill taking inspiration from David Chang's 'Momofuko', Sydney's 'Bodega' and Melbourne's 'Andrew Connell' to bring big Pan American flavours using quality local produce.  
We'd been meaning to get in and check out Shady Palms for a while, but Stones Corner is not on our usual 'trade route' and it wasn't until we'd exhausted almost every local cafe that we'd thought we give it a go.  We used to live on the south side in the days when Stones Corner was just starting to wane, so we knew the area pretty well and had no troubles in finding a park, just around the corner from Shady Palms Logan Road location. Walking up to Shady Palms, I first though that it was going to be quite small, but like the 'Tardis', looks can be deceiving and as we entered the cafe, I saw that it was actually quite large.

It was lucky we'd rocked up early and were able to score a table inside, we'd actually forgotten it was Fathers day - phew.  The inside of Shady Palms is quite eclectic, with loads of mismatched tables and chairs inside as well as a decent outdoor section at the rear of the cafe.  We were given a couple of menus to look over and then reminded that it was counter service only.  While there were some interesting looking items on the largely contemporary looking menu, there were not a heap of things that excited us, so we both ended up with a fairly basic breakfast, which kicked off with a vanilla milkshake for myself and a half strength latte for SC.

SC did contemplate ordering the hot cakes, but didn't really feel like a sweet breakfast on this occasion, but did feel like eggs.  SC ordered two poached eggs with some maple glazed bacon and roasted tomatoes with some hollandaise sauce on the side.  When the plate arrived we had an unwelcome surprise, instead of the hollandaise sauce, there was a serving halloumi cheese.  After a few awkward moments where we were made to feel bad about the mix up, I mentioned that I'd eat the halloumi and the waitress walked off to get the hollandaise.  There were some highs and lows for SC with the dish, the roasted tomato was lovely and one of the eggs was perfect, with the other being slightly over.  The hollandaise, after all the grief was actually pretty good too, what was a problem was the bacon, it was half an inch thick!  Now that might not be a problem for some, but SC really didn't like the bacon, which tasted more like just warm ham, without the baconey goodness.

I'm not sure if I will ever learn my lesson, but I went crazy again and ordered just about every side that was on offer.  I kicked off with some scrambled eggs on toasted sourdough, then added the bacon, chorizo, roasted tomatoes, roasted field mushrooms and as a added bonus, I got to add SC's unwanted halloumi to my plate - it was a lot of food.  My breakfast looked amazing and for the most part, it was really delicious.  The eggs were cooked just right, with a good level of seasoning, the roasted tomatoes and mushrooms were superb and the little chorizo sausages were tops too.  I had to agree with SC, the bacon was just too thick and lost much of that beautiful baconey flavour and just tasted like ham.  

It was actually a beautifully sunny morning and while we were happy sitting inside looking out, it perhaps would have been a good day to be sitting outside.  The space both inside and outside at Shady Palms is quite comfortable, with lots of plush looking couches mixed in with the hodgepodge of tables and chairs.  The table that we were at was just a little uncomfortable, mainly due to its height and the awkward height of the chairs that pushed your knees into the table.

Shady Palms was just starting to hum along by the time we finished up our breakfast, with lots of kids and mums taking out dads for their one day of the year (that's right, I went there).  Apart from a little bit of angst created over the hollandaise incident, breakfast went pretty smoothly, there were no delays with our drinks for food turning up in short order.  For the most part, the breakfast was excellent quality, well cooked and plentiful, with the exception of the bacon which neither of us liked.

I like what Bec and Mal have done with Shady Palms, it's kind of quirky and cool but has a serious undertone that shows the clear ambition of Mal to be a serious restaurateur.  I didn't really see the influences of the noted Pan American influences of David Chang's 'Momofuko' in our breakfast, but then after spending time in the USA and noting how terrible the breakfasts are there, its probably a good thing.

With two successful cafes in Stones Corner, it's fair to say that Bec and Mal have helped contribute to its resurgence as a destination.  While it's not close to some other nearby precincts (like the Gabba) yet, perhaps a third cafe from the dynamic duo will do the trick!!

No table numbers at the Shady Palms - we had this cool reference to Cheech and Chong to set us apart 
 I really wish there were smoothies on the menu - c'mon, its Queensland and you're called the Shady Palms!!
We eventually got some hollandaise for SC but the bacon ended up her only problem
Mt huge plate of food made bigger with the erroneous halloumi order (which we had to pay for their mistake!)
I just loved the colour in our little table cactus
Lots of comfy spots to sit and a teasing view of the lovely day outside
At the front of Shady Palms - this couch looks comfy!

Shady Palms Cafe on Urbanspoon


  1. It's interesting how much attitude can impact on your dining experience - especially if you are made to feel like YOU have put THEM out by pointing out a genuine mistake or issue. Mind you I thought your review was extremely fair in spit of this!

    That said, I LOVE Shady Palms myself. We went as a family about 2 months ago and were really impressed by both food and service. I reckon it stacks up with the best of the many American restaurants that have popped up in the last year. Maybe they should just stick to lunch & Dinner?

    1. Thanks Rachel, I quite enjoyed my breakfast and overall the service was good, just that one moment! It didn't bother me too much - not like asking for no pickles in a burger and being told they wont do it (a burger joint around town!)


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