Small cafe excels at fresh food

TUCKED AWAY: Claire Hart, barista and waitress at Lillies and Limes at Morpeth in the bright dining room. Pictures: Simone De Peak
TUCKED AWAY: Claire Hart, barista and waitress at Lillies and Limes at Morpeth in the bright dining room. Pictures: Simone De Peak

It’s time for a late lunch on a sunny afternoon and we toddle up a laneway in historic Morpeth to find some food.

Situated in a protected courtyard, hidden from the road, is Lillies and Limes, part cafe, part gourmet catering company and part last-minute meal saviour. I’ll explain later. 

HOW SWEET IT IS: A baked chocolate tart, on a plate like nan would have.

HOW SWEET IT IS: A baked chocolate tart, on a plate like nan would have.

It’s a light, bright space with white walls, that Nordic-style furniture, bright coloured cushions and artwork adorning the walls. There’s an open kitchen along a side of the cafe and the overall effect is one of being looked after in someone’s kitchen.

Come with friends or come alone, the warm atmosphere lends itself to chatting or just sitting with a good book. And the food nurtures. Even the plates will remind you of grandma. 

HEARTY: A breakfast board can be made to serve one or two.

HEARTY: A breakfast board can be made to serve one or two.

Owner Kellie Brennan began a humble catering company in Moree 17 years ago, focusing on big outdoor weddings. “We were cooking for campers,” she said. 

Still catering for big weddings and corporate events, it has now also become an open door catering business and the cafe is busy, even late in the afternoon. 

It’s not complicated food, it’s just straightforward and full of flavour. Breakfast is a hearty affair with the breakfast board (smoked salmon, bacon, egg, tomato, mushrooms, fruit and yoghurt), the breakfast bruschetta (herbed mushrooms and poached eggs); bacon and eggs (with or without all the extras); plus toasted waffles: think Nutella, ice cream and fresh strawberries or maple syrup and bacon.

The lunch time offerings are as big or as light as you’d like. For those with an appetite, the Manwich with its grilled steak, caramelised onion, cheddar and tomato on Italian bread with either sweet potato fries or chips will fill you up. As will a crispy chicken burger – the crumbly brioche bun gradually beginning to soften with each bite from the juicy home-made tangy coleslaw that tops the panko-crumbed chicken piece. Add some apple chutney and you’ve got a sweet, savoury, sour punch in every bite. Sweet potato fries are circular and thin, but not too thin that there isn’t any flesh left inside. 

For those after a hearty meal without the bread, head for the roasted vegetable and quinoa salad. Vegetables are local and in season, so this time of year the focus was on pumpkin. Add some chicken and creamy feta or smoked salmon for an extra dimension. Sprinkled throughout are candied nuts for crunch and fun. 

My pick off the menu are the zucchini and corn fritters. Often they are either falling apart or too oily from frying; these sit perfectly in between. Three are piled high with glistening smoked salmon in between, along with fresh rocket and a strong, but not sinus-clearing, horseradish cream.

Got the kids? There is more than just nuggets on offer. Surely a grazing board with sandwiches (ham, cheese, Vegemite, jam, Nutella or honey), cheese, crackers, fruit, marshmallow and a babycino will more healthily cover a range of appetites. 

Sweet treats are home-made and home-style: freshly baked scones, caramel slice, banana bread and fruit toast. Pair with a mug of Sprocket coffee or a pot of tea and let time drift away.

If you’re wanting to take some of the fare home with you, or you are stuck last minute in need of dinner, there a range of ready-made meals for purchase. The family favourite dishes may include chicken cacciatore, lasagne, curries, cottage pie, apricot chicken, quiches and curried sausages. 

Lillies and Limes also runs a Friday BYO night dinner, with bookings essential as seats are limited to 20. It’s $50 for two courses plus tea and coffee – perfect for locals and those after a relaxed setting.  

Tucked away home-style country fare? Tick. Hearty traditional meals with some modern flare? Tick. Attentive, helpful staff? Tick. Enjoy a cafe that’s laid-back and serving lovely food without any fuss. 

QUICK BITE

The essentials

  • What: Lillies and Limes
  • Where: 3/165 Swan St, Morpeth. 4933 7721 or lilliesandlimes.com.au.
  • Hours: Tue – Sat from 8.30am – 3pm. Friday night dinners. 
  • Owner: Kellie Brennan
  • Head chef: Amanda Coulton
  • Drinks: Sprocket coffee, teas, milkshakes, sparkling and juices. BYO at Friday dinner. 
  • Vegetarian: Plenty of options. 
  • Wheelchair: Full access and toilet. 
  • Bottom line: Dishes are around $10-$25.
  • Do try: The zucchini fritters.