Tuesday, May 19, 2009


As I walked up Beaufort Street in Highgate/Mt Lawley I became increasingly desperate. I needed a new cafe, and I couldn't find one. I saw coffee shops I'd already visited, and restaurants and bakeries which didn't really specialise in coffee. But cafes that are new to me were thin on the ground.

This is the result of being the sort of person who goes out to cafes too much instead of staying at home and doing the vacuuming, or going out and helping the homeless, or combining the two and vacuuming the homeless... all more worthwhile activities than hanging out in cafes drinking coffee until my skin vibrates.

Eventually I ended up at Cantina, which is in one of those locations which Jerry Seinfeld dubbed the Bermuda Triangle of retail. It used to be a Cino To Go. Before that it was a place called The Globe, I think. At some point in its past it may even have been a Dome. The point is that you've always been able to get a cup of coffee there, although you'd know that the coffee beans were ground up like the hopes and dreams of innumerable previous proprietors.

The interior is still vaguely Dome-like, with bentwood stools, benches upholstered in worn leather, tables topped with white marble and lots of varnished wood. The staff were all very friendly. The waitress smiled and acknowledged me as I walked in. As I walked up to the counter to inspect the cakes, a waiter advised me to find a seat so that he could come and take my order.

I took a seat at long marble-topped table and leafed through a copy of GQ. Or HQ. Or possibly just Q. Anyway it had Clive Owen on the cover. I read about the latest looks in men's shoes (pointy, and laces are for squares), and what all the best people are having for breakfast these days (poached eggs with pesto, and posh versions of ham and cheese toasties), and how George Clooney thinks that Clive Owen is quite the man (possibly because he's not an insufferable commie, George). The two waiters and one waitress shuttled back and forth behind me, evidently not noticing that I was there, or that there was nothing in front of me other than the news that Clive Owen is famous for his smouldering. After about fifteen or twenty minutes of not being offered coffee, I heaved a sigh and headed back to the counter.

“How are you?” the waitress asked cheerfully.

“Fine, thank you.”

“Where were you sitting?”

“Just over there.”

“Oh of course, I saw you there.” She confidently tapped a few buttons on her touchscreen, then slightly less confidently frowned at it. “Er, what did you have?”

“I haven't had anything.”

She gave me a baffled look, as if to ask why I was presenting myself to her if I wasn't paying for something, and furthermore why had I been lurking at one of the tables for the last quarter of an hour reading about Clive Owen when I should have been eating and drinking?

“Could I have a flat white, please?” I asked, in a tone which suggested that I was fully prepared for the possibility that such a thing might be beyond them.

“Um, okay, sure,” she responded, and took my money. I went back to my marble-topped table and flicked through a copy of Vogue Living (it seems orange is the new brown) for a couple of minutes before my flat white turned up. It was good. A touch on the milky side, perhaps, but otherwise as good as I'd expect in this quality end of town.

I didn't bother with food – nothing in the cake display inspired me – and after my coffee I slipped out with the same flawless stealth that I'd apparently employed the whole time I was there.


Anonymous Kim said...

I went to Cantina the other day for lunch, and you might be pleased to learn that they have covered the ceiling! Lunch was very nice actually, although I'll refrain from waxing more lyically than that in your witty shadow. I drink mocha, so I know this disqualifies me from providing an opinion as to the quality of their coffee. Also, between being the Globe and Cantina it was a cafe called Mozart, which whenever I went past seemed poorly patronised. Cino to Go is still there, just a touch up the road.

9:38 PM  

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