The crossroad of Lawes and High streets in East Maitland is the centre of activity for the suburb. And perched right in the heart of things is Teale Cafe and Catering.
Run by husband and wife team, Bradley and Anne Teale, the cafe is partnered by a catering business that looks after functions both off-site and ones that can be held in the cafe itself.
Perched on a corner with big glass windows to watch the passing parade, the cafe is spacious and open. The main front room has wooden floorboards and dark bentwood chairs which gives it an air of comfort. The big chalkboard highlighting the specials and delectable desserts out of the oven that day features prominently and the overall effect is that you are in a very familiar environment, easy and relaxed.
As well as the front indoor space, there is a another room down the stairs heading out to the rear courtyard. This large area is perfect for larger groups and those with little ones who have legs that need a bit of stretching. While inside is cosier this time of year, I’ve eaten in the courtyard during the warmer months and it is a lovely place to spend the afternoon, under the vines and blue sky.
Visiting this time for lunch, the tables are filled with groups catching up, mums meeting and those popping in for a quiet meal.
The menu reflects this, with quick and straightforward options or heartier, more detailed dishes.
Try one of the selection of toasted Turkish sandwiches – by no means dull or small – with crisp barramundi, shaved fennel, iceberg and tartare; Southern fried chicken with corn and coriander salsa and lime mayonnaise; or get stuck into a scotch fillet sanga with caramelised onions, rockets and confit tomatoes. Served with chunky chips of course.
If you’re after something that doesn’t come between bread, then there are plenty of tasty options. Chickpea, spinach and pumpkin fritters; spiced lamb filo pastries with a mint and sumac salad; even a Massaman curry to warm the cockles on a cold day.
Fresh and flavoursome is the salmon soba noodle salad. Seared Tassie salmon sits atop a big pile of delicate noodles tossed with cress, pickled ginger, red onion, cucumber and parsley. A soy-based dressing is restrained and dollops of wasabi mayonnaise add that familiar zest while still being mild.
A herb and brioche crumbed chicken salad is by all intents and purposes a Caesar, albeit a light, bright take on one with a twist here and there. The chicken fillets are the most moist I have had in a long time and the brioche adds a certain sweetness. Plenty of crunchy cos adds bite, as does shaved parmesan and red onion. Bacon bits add those little bursts of salt while a winning creamy lemon-based dressing is light and prevents any heaviness.
There are also daily specials to tempt. While soups and pies are hearty winter fare, I can’t ignore the eggplant and ricotta involtini. Baked in a little crockery dish, three rolls of eggplant stuffed with a creamy ricotta arrive under a bubbling herby tomato sauce. Sitting on top is a fresh, strong parsley and olive salad with a little too much raw red onion for my liking. There are two very crusty pieces of bread to dip into the saucy pot to mop up all the lashings of tomato and ricotta. It’s rich, yet it doesn’t leave you heavy.
Everything is served on pretty crockery.
We are left to our own devices after the meal, so I head up to the counter to order coffees. There are also desserts such as sticky date pudding, lemon tart, tiramisu and assorted pastries to indulge in afterwards.
Teale Cafe is also open for breakfasts throughout the week and on Saturdays, serving up all the classics.
This all-rounder cafe is a great resident to have in this bustling suburb.
- What: Teale Cafe and Catering
- Where: 104 Lawes Street, East Maitland.
- Hours: Weekdays 7am-3.30pm; Sat 7am-12pm.
- Contact: 4933 6825; tealecc.com.au.
- Owner/chef: Bradley and Anne Teale
- Drinks: Coffee, tea. BYO $5 corkage per bottle.
- Vegetarian: 1 sandwich, 1 main, 1 special.
- Wheelchair: Two small steps up to front door.
- Bottom line: Meals are $15-23.
- Do try: A toasted sandwich with chunky chips.