Have you ever ridden your bike along the Hunter River on a cool, sunny, Sunday morning in Maitland to go have breakfast? I haven't, but only because I don't live in Maitland. If I did, I would, because it's quite peaceful and beautiful at that time of the week, especially with the recently completed renovations at the Levee... but wait, where was I? Ah, yes... breakfast, in Maitland. At Temple Bar to be precise.
Temple Bar is not really a bar, yet. It's my understanding that the owners are hoping to open in the evenings, just as soon as their liquor license is approved. So, for now, Temple Bar is, temporarily more like a café than a bar, which is a good thing for staunchly casual Sunday morning cyclists who like to sip coffee and read Weekender's brilliantly written food, beer and wine pages, and dining reviewers who like to take their mum out for a delicious Sunday breakfast.
Located at the Lorn end of High St, Maitland, Temple Bar looks quite snazzy from the street. Natural timber frames the large windows and doors, which are inscribed with Temple Bar's distinctive gold logo and font. Inside, stained timber floorboards sync with dark timber tables and chairs and a few comfy seats over in the corner. There's a silhouetted map of the world on one wall, surrounded by canvas photographs of iconic temples from all over the globe. Up the back, the kitchen is busy cooking and preparing breakfast for the Temple Bar's hungry customers.
We start with a couple of coffees - flat white and a long black - that arrive just in time, before we place our order with the friendly waiter: toasted croissant with strawberry jam, poached eggs and bacon on sourdough, and a double egg and bacon roll, on Turkish. I wouldn't have minded trying the Belgian waffles, or having a go at the Temple Challenge (bacon, eggs, sausage, tomatoes, mushrooms, chats, avocado, and sourdough), except, I didn't ride my bike, so I couldn't justify the extra calories. The drinks list features freshly squeezed juices, smoothies, and specialty milkshakes. My stand-in dining associate ordered a pineapple juice, while I opted for a chocolate milkshake (being somewhat of a self-appointed connoisseur of these things). Both beverages were excellent examples of what they were meant to be. However, there were no chocolate streaks down the sides of glass for the milkshake, and the pineapple juice was served in a counterfeit mason jar, which I thought we'd left behind in 2015.
The croissant is served next to a small serving plate filled with strawberry jam, which is excellent for portion control; it's dusted with icing sugar and topped with an actual, real-life strawberry. It's buttery, flaky, crunchy, delicious.
My substitute dining-associate recounts that her double egg and bacon Turkish roll is fresh, the eggs are runny, and the bacon is crisp. There's just enough seasoning to enliven the taste buds, and the tomato chutney adds an earthy-sweet dimension. I get a brief pang of food envy because the routine bacon and eggs on toast that I ordered looks too simple to be delicious. That is until I puncture the poached eggs and a river of golden gooeyness runs and soaks into the crunchy sourdough toast (a few cafés in Newcastle could learn a thing or two here). The bacon was crispy and the toast was soaked in butter without forsaking crunch.
I'd be keen to visit Temple Bar again, perhaps with my bike and some newly-purchased black lycra. Although, the more likely scenario will be once it opens of an evening and starts serving adult beverages and things more befitting an actual bar. In the meantime, if you were looking for something to do and somewhere to eat on Sunday, I’d recommend riding your bike along the Hunter River and stopping at Temple Bar.