I HAD high hopes for Farmology.
After all, a cafe situated in Perth City Farm should be the very essence of paddock-to-plate with access to the freshest and best produce around.
I had visions of The Good Life meets River Cottage with a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall clone serving me some delicious omelette made from eggs freshly laid that morning.
The anticipation was heightened by the slightly clandestine drive to reach Perth City Farm, tucked away at the end of a winding road at the city-bound stretch of Royal Street.
Opened in 1994 on a former industrial site in East Perth, the not-for-profit urban farm and nursery has expanded over the years to become a community hub, offering educational workshops and venue hire for events like weddings, gigs and birthdays.
As I parked outside and walked past the quaint stone boundary wall, people were humphing stuff into a van and busy moving plants in and out.
It definitely had the feel of a working farm, a bit rough around the edges with lots going on, and not some tourist idyll or picture-perfect xanadu for office workers experiencing weltschmerz.
The Farmology cafe was off to the side as you walked through the front gates, and a few people were eating there when I arrived on Tuesday lunchtime.
The main menu was small with just six breakfast items – granola, buttermilk chai pancakes, zucchini fritters, eggs rosti Benedict, big brekky and eggs on toast.
There was also a display cabinet with some wraps and sandwiches, some baked goods on the counter and a specials board.
It pays nothing for a smile and I wouldn’t say the girl at the till was the most welcoming (it had the feeling of I’m nearly at the end of my shift) but no big deal and after ordering I took my little metal flag and retreated to a crate-cum-table in the dining area.
From the cafe you have interesting views of the inner-city farm with stone-walled gardens mingling with warehouses, vans and lush plants and shrubs.
Peeping through the verdure were some cool frescos on the side of a nearby warehouse with a colourful hawk and pelican rubbing shoulders with some modern urban art.
The farm had the feel of a commune with a slightly gritty edge, like some distant footnote to 1960s counter-culture.
Playing away in the cafe were some mellow songs in the vein of Teenage Fanclub and The Byrds, and coupled with the tranquil views, the stress began to fall away and I felt very relaxed.
The cafe interior was rustic with wooden tables and chairs, and large fans desperately trying to counter the late summer heat, but not making much headway.
It wasn’t long before the lady from the till was back with my zucchini fritters ($17).
The two large poached eggs perched on top of the fritters were cooked to perfection – golden yolk oozed out as you pierced them with your folk and they tasted delicious when combined with the heap of wilted spinach.
I was expecting that trademark crispy exterior from the zucchini, corn and capsicum fritters, but they had the texture of something akin to a pancake and there was no satisfying crunch.
The taste was okay, but it was slightly bland, and got lost amongst the strong burst of flavour from the accompanying hummus, which was rich, thick and creamy.
Scattered around the edge of the plate was some housemade Egyptian dukkah, which added an exotic twist, but there needed to be more of it to provide texture.
Maybe they were having an off day, but my lunch at Farmology was a bit hit and miss.
It feels like it has untapped potential and could be making more of its location and access to fresh produce.
1 City Farm Place
by STEPHEN POLLOCK