Discover what's new at 42nd Street Cafe
Every lunch time Ben Hart waits out the front of 42nd Street Cafe and greets most of his customers by name. He’s been a manager at the cafe for almost a decade and knows most of the regulars well, but lately he’s been seeing a lot of new faces too.
That’s because alongside classics like tuna mornay and quiche, Ben and owner Lucy Li have been working hard on a new “Clean Eating” menu that’s heavy on colour and healthy options.
For Ben, who follows a “loosely paleo” diet, it’s a natural extension of his own interest in the area. “People want to know what they are eating, they want to be healthier,” he says, and the response to the new menu shows that he’s spot on.
It’s only been around for a year, but already dishes like the Baked Sweet Potato, Smashed Pumpkin with eggs and the fully loaded Oriental Bowl have become favourites with diners.
Those Clean Eating options have just been refreshed and one of the key features of the new menu is colour. The beautifully presented Nutty Cacao Smoothie Bowl looks like an artwork with splashes of colour from edible flowers among the stripes of fresh fruit, chia seeds and crunchy cacao nibs. And the fact that it’s both gluten free and vegan points to one of the other features of the new menu, which caters to a range of dietary requirements.
Even more colourful are the eye-catching artisan lattes, which come in a range of startlingly beautiful hues like purple (taro), blue (butterfly pea) and yellow (turmeric) and taste as good as they look. And of course they’re available with alternatives like almond and lactose-free milk, a far cry from when Lucy bought the business in 2010.
“There was nothing like that,” she laughs, “it was very old school to start with.” But while some things may have changed, Lucy also knows the value of tradition. 42nd Street still makes all the cakes in house from scratch, using family recipes inherited from the previous owner. The cake display is so popular that it’s updated several times a day, and favourites like the apple pie and Lumberjack (a thick apple and date cake topped with coconut) are made the same way they’ve always been. “Customers love it,” she says, “they come back saying they can’t find it anywhere else.” And with old school classics alongside the latest trends in clean eating, 42nd Street has the best of both worlds.
Find 42nd Street Cafe on level 2, near the Australia Post Office.
Words by Alexis Buxton-Collins
Images by Ross McNaughtan