IT wasn’t that long ago the area around Lake Street, Northbridge was a hangout for undesirables and street walkers, but these days people cruising the streets are looking for interesting cafes to have something to eat.
Which is what I was doing when I rediscovered Tarts Cafe—not named after the ladies of the night—but after the tempting assortment of sweets on offer, including a topical batch of rainbow-coloured cakes.
There’s a terrific mix of vegetarian and carnivore dishes on the menu, from the pork bagel ($17.90) and steak panini ($19.90) to the vegan Buddha bowl ($15.90) and vego house-made gnocchi ($22.90).
Feeling all pescetarian, the grilled barramundi burrito bowl looked like a healthy option, and how right I was.
The burrito-lined bowl was brimming with perfectly cooked barra, a generous serve of fresh avocado, lime cauliflower rice, rocket, and one of the best coleslaws I ever eaten (and I’ve had a lot of them).
A good slaw is really down to the mayo and Tarts’ coleslaw, made in-house, is a creamy cracker and has a nice lime tang.
I looked askance at the chunky mango and strawberry salsa.
Fruit salad and fish seemed incongruous, but the contrast of sweet and savoury was a real winner in this dish.
The people at the next table had ordered the same, as they do every time, Tarts owner John Vallini said.
There’s only so much healthy eating one can do, so I headed to the sweets cabinet to agonise over the mouthwatering selection.
Doubling my chances of sugar-overload, I ordered a couple of raspberry and rhubarb cakes ($6.80) to go, and a lime slice to eat there.
I’m often disappointed by the lack of lemon/lime sharpness, but this slice was piquant, and so delicious I nearly shoved the whole lot in my mouth at once.
But then I would have missed the pleasure of sipping a very agreeable earl grey tea between bites.
The rhubarb and raspberry was pretty good too, winning me best-wife points for taking it home.
by JENNY D’ANGER
212 Lake Street, Northbridge
open 7 days 7am–5pm