For me, going up to Mt Dandenong means going to Pie In The Sky (refer my review in Oct 2011) for lunch. It’s only on rare occasions that I don’t eat there or get a pie to go (or, to borrow a phrase from Bubba Chuck, eat one pie now, and take two pies home).
Recently, it happened to be one of those rare occasions. I went driving up the mountain looking for buttermilk pancakes (with the exception of crepes, pancakes are only worth eating if they’re made with buttermilk). The closest I could find to buttermilk pancakes were your run-of-the-mill pikelets.
Given that buttermilk pancakes were not to be, I perused the menu of Olinda Cafe. The OC (ha!) is one of the more popular cafes in Olinda. Over the years, I’ve been there a few times. The food is reasonable and unobjectionable. The place used to be half restaurant and half foodie shop (think Yarra Valley produce and products, eg, chutneys, jams, etc). Nowadays, the place is all restaurant, which I think works better. I like how they’ve decorated it – wooden furniture, artwork, Tiffany lamps, and it always has a nice hum to the place from locals, day trippers and tourists enjoying a cuppa or a meal. It has a busy, but not frazzled, atmosphere.
The welcoming staff led me to a nice table, but I opted for a front window seat. Despite wanting to treat myself to pancakes, I ended up ordering a warm beef salad (one of the specials of the day) instead. After paying for the meal at the counter, I only had to wait a short while before my meal came out.
For $14 I reckon this was pretty good value. Tender strips of beef (skirt steak, I think) with lots of fresh, al dente string beans and sesame seeds (which I would have liked it if were toasted). Lots of roasted peanuts and crispy noodle bits gave the salad crunch and texture. The dressing was ginger and lemon, however, as I'm a ginger fanatic, I would have liked more of a ginger kick. Nonetheless, I felt full, replete and healthy.
Food – 7
Service – 7
Ambience – 7.5
Price – 7 (for the special. If I was ordering off the regular menu, I'd rate it 6.5)
For me, it's a nice cafe. It's not trying to be anything grand. It does its job.
There’s a few negative reviews of the place, especially about the service. I think you’ve got to bear mind that the OC is located in a tourist area. There’s enough variety on the menu to please most people (salads, steak sangers, fish and chips, potato wedges, pasta, etc). The menu isn’t going to win awards for creativity but when you’re trying to appeal to a wide demographic, you gotta offer the safe/popular options. The quality of the food is reasonable and the price is fair-ish (given that it’s in a tourist area) and every time that I’ve been here the service is friendly and prompt.
17 Olinda-Monbulk Rd
Telephone: 9751 0466