DINING REVIEW: Goldbergs' Coffee House

WHAT do you say about a place like Goldbergs’ Coffee House? Located on Darby Street, Cooks Hills, since forever ago, Goldbergs’ has been an unwavering, unfaltering, dependable Newcastle stalwart for generations. The go to place whenever you’re stuck for somewhere to eat and drink in town. Goldbergs’ is a Newcastle institution. 

Outside, umbrellas shadow customers on the Darby Street sidewalk, while inside an ornate wooden chandelier hangs above scratched wooden tables and wrap-around chairs that rest on a scratched timber floor in much the same spot as they’ve been for years. Out back, a quiet oasis seats many more people surrounded by gardens, bricks, and palm trees.

Each piece of furniture is well worn by locals and visitors, colleagues and friends meeting for coffee, chai, and catch-ups, first dates and milkshakes, maybe, sometimes, even heartbreak. The walls are marked with faded old posters advertising coffee and framed pictures of minstrels playing music. The specials board changes daily, but it always has the bread and soup.

Less than 30 minutes after opening, Goldbergs’ is already busy with people delaying the inevitable start to their workday.

 A flat white coffee and a Bengali chai are ordered through apologetic yawns, before the waiter returns to take our breakfast order. 

My dining associate orders a serve of savoury mince on sourdough, with a side of potato rosti, while I deliberate over whether to have the buttermilk pancake stack with fresh lemon, strawberries, and maple syrup, or the Afghani cornbread with bacon, roast tomato, baby spinach and harissa créme fraiche. In the end, and for the sake of my professionalism, I order both. Though, it must be said, only a half stack of pancakes, lest I look greedy...

It was nice to start the day in such a relaxing way, sipping on coffee and chai and watching the world wake up with us. There was such a pleasant sense of community going on around us, as we waited for our breakfast to arrive. People stopped to say hello to each other so frequently that you’d be forgiven for thinking you were eating breakfast on Penny Lane.

The savoury mince on toasted sourdough bread tastes exactly how it sounds. Served warm, the mince is soft with juicy, yellow, kernels of corn and green chives mixed throughout; crunchy buttered bread and roast cherry tomato come on the side. The potato rosti added extra crunch to an otherwise texturally mellow dish. 

The Afghani cornbread is just as savoury as my dining associates’ savoury mince, but with a little added flavour thanks to the cardamom and other spices that are baked into the cornbread. It’s as crumbly as the bacon is crispy, and the juice from the small wedge of lemon combines with the chilli harissa to balance the whole dish out quite nicely. 

The half stack of buttermilk pancakes (which, by the way, I was more than willing to share) was the showstopper. Three flat, fluffy, thick and round pancakes, stacked high and, more or less, swimming in a sweet pool of golden maple syrup, topped with bright red strawberries, a wedge of yellow lemon, and a fresh green mint leaf make this morning’s early rise all the more worthwhile.

As far as similes go, Goldbergs’ is like an old pair of jeans. It’s a comfy fit for everyone, and in a world of increasingly contradictory food trends like micro-green garnishes on obesity-in-a-bun-burgers, and forming strangely acceptable queues for things like gelato, it’s nice to know that a communal place like Goldbergs’ still exists, at any time of the day, as the trends come and go. 

RELIABLE: A chandelier hangs above the tables and chairs that rest on the same spots they’ve been for years. Pictures: Marina Neil

RELIABLE: A chandelier hangs above the tables and chairs that rest on the same spots they’ve been for years. Pictures: Marina Neil

COVETED: Out back, people are seated in an oasis surrounded by garden.

COVETED: Out back, people are seated in an oasis surrounded by garden.

FARE: A classic dish from a menu that changes little, except for daily specials.

FARE: A classic dish from a menu that changes little, except for daily specials.

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