The march of the good cafe continues north on the Gold Coast with this sizeable place that recently opened in the suburb of Varsity Lakes. It’s a good idea too as there is literally nothing out here catering to the coffee connoisseur and the area is full of students and start-up types taking advantage of the new semi-industrial office space to try and get their ideas off the ground.
Funnily enough Blackboard Specialty Coffee itself falls into this start-up category. A student in the area noticed the same dire lack of good cafes for miles around and decided that he would open up a place to fill that gap. Nestled within the grounds of Bond University accommodation, Blackboard has a captive audience. There’re already a couple of outposts and it seems to be trying to be the St ALi of the Gold Coast.
It’s a good setup with the open cafe inhabiting one space while next door there’s the takeaway coffee and food stop that transforms into NOLA – a pop-up that takes place Monday to Thursday and serves Southern American fare. It’s also of a size that if you have prams there is ample space to park up. Definitely one of the best cafes on the Gold Coast for mums and kids.
The fit out is clean and crisp, both the baristas and chefs are on hand for all to see and the vibe is ‘coffee a-la-Melbourne’. One difference is the absolutely fantastic service that is sometimes lacking in Melbourne. An incredibly talented waitress served me on both visits and she really exemplified the kind of effort that sets these guys apart. Blackboard Coffee roast their own beans on the Isle of Capri (where another outpost lies) which gives you the option to choose from the house or single origin beans depending on your personal taste.
The menu is tight with 13 options (come on, I’m from Melbourne) and if you’re not into eggs me you can either hit up one of the few options without them or do what I should have realised and check out the takeaway next door – they had some amazing doughnuts, cakes and tarts going on!
In the end I went with the anti-egg choice – flatbread, lamb, mint and yoghurt. With nicely balanced and succulent lamb, this was indeed a filling start to the morning. My only complaint was the dire state of the chips on offer. This is a basic staple of the cafe and restaurant game and if you can’t get them right something needs to change – either the chef, the potatoes or the cooking method you’re using. These were soft, limp and lifeless. Steer clear until they get all elements on song is my suggestion. We had two serves as they also came with the burger – consisting of a double pattie, mozzarella and house-made pickles.
The ladies in our party went for the much healthier granola with warmed stewed fruit and mascarpone. I was told everything in this dish came together perfectly – not too sweet yet not too tart and served at the perfect temperature. My sister basically put together a full English as she is with child and needs the nourishment. Let’s just say she polished it off with minimum effort.
The food here is simple but up there with some of the Coast’s best brunch options. And then there’s those weekday evenings when the NOLA pop-up is in full swing. I am intrigued and should it still be going on my next visit I will be posting a full review.