It wasn’t cider that was calling us but spring weather had finally arrived and we decided to head off on a day trip to York to see what we could see. Country driving confidence is still not what it was pre-crash, but we happily encountered nothing but other Sunday drivers on the ~1 hr 20 min trip eastwards.
Upon arrival to the main drag, we felt somewhat out of place shielding our eyes from the chrome of the inexplicably large number of 1950s cars. I suspect that if we waited long enough a roller skating waitress would have appeared with malted shakes, but breakfast had long since worn off and we didn’t have time to wait for Cha Cha to materialise.
My family lived in Northam when I was a baby, and the land upon which our old house was situated has since been turned into a dump for dead animals. Trips back to the Avon Valley have been few and far between since we relinquished the land to Stephen King in the mid 1980s, so I did a bit of research to try and suss out where might be a nice spot to eat for lunch. Local friends recommended Jules Cafe on the main drag, but we found it closed for service. Foiled! We checked out some of the other options on the main street, ogling people’s meals and menus alike, but after finding nothing terribly interesting we decided to go check out the The York Mill.
As we discovered, the cafe at The York Mill has recently changed hands, and is now run by Black Wattle Catering. The menu isn’t exactly innovative but covers all the basics you’d expect from a decent cafe. In fact, it covers the basics that you’d expect on a decent pub grub menu, and actually charges what you should be paying for them (I know it’s de rigueur to bag the prices of countermeals at most Perth pubs, but they really do make it too easy to do). I spied a “Nana’s home made sausage roll with tomato relish” being taken out to a diner as we arrived, and it was about twice the size of your standard roadhouse version for $6.50. It also looked to be filled with none of the sphincters and regret that you see lying next to the Chico Rolls and Wing Dings.
Resisting the call of the pastry, I settled on one of the few wheat-free & low-carb options – a “House Caesar Salad with chicken ($13). The super friendly girl serving us had no qualms about me requesting it without the included croutons. Fletch went with a “grilled rump steak with hand cut chips and salad ($16)”. We went and chose a table outside, as far away from the noisy children as possible, and enjoyed the windy sunshine for perhaps 10 minutes before our food arrived.
Have I had better Caesar salads? Yes. Have I had worse? Definitely. What won me over with this one was the value for money (massive chunks of chicken), the freshness of the lettuce (no manky brown bits – this happens far too often!) and the little cheese bowl that my egg was sitting in. Bonus points for having a nice oozy googy egg, making up for the slightly odd bacon (pre-cooked, maybe?) that was too hard to stab with my fork. The leaves were just dressed enough to give them sufficient weight to avoid being blown off my plate by the wind that blew our table number into our lunch. Also, the plate was larger than my head, which can only be a good thing. Overall, it wasn’t an amazing salad but it was a satisfying lunch at a good price.
Fletch’s steak was cooked on the rare side of the medium rare he requested, and was quite chewy. He polished it all off, and although it wasn’t a great steak he felt it was reasonable for the price. I had to try a couple of his chips, and they were bloody good. Piping hot, crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. The little bowl of relish was lovely too – aromatic and spicy. I bet it went well with Nana’s sausage roll.
When we were ordering, I noticed that they had a gluten-free orange cake on offer in their range of desserts. I find that a very occasional hit of sugar doesn’t knock me around too much now that I’m functioning on such a low baseline carb intake, so I thought I’d have a rare sweet treat and try their cakey wares. Fletch joined me and ordered a serve of their banana bread. It cost a total of $8 extra for our sugar hit.
The banana bread was moist, and had a nice goopy top. My gluten-free orange cake was excellent – moist and absolutely packed full of orange, and not overly sweet. The crunchy syrupy top was expectedly sweet, but balanced well with the addition of the rind. Both cakes were served with a good dollop of double cream. Winners, the both of them.
So, our mains weren’t great but they were good for the price. The desserts were great, and I’d happily go back for that orange cake. We couldn’t fault the fast, friendly service, and the outside tables were a nice spot to sit and enjoy the spring air.
Black Wattle Catering @ The York Mill
Bellies full, we wandered around the other parts of the mill complex, starting by lustfully ogling the beautiful wooden furniture in the adjacent store. Around the corner we found another shop area, where they seemed to be selling the classic combination of jewellery and stuffed animals. We stayed in here just long enough to leave without feeling rude about immediately turning tail, and then checked out the adjacent Pert’s Pantry store where I successfully resisted the urge to buy a chilli chocolate cake to
eat on the drive home take home to share with friends.
After getting back in the car and cruising through town, and a failed attempt at getting to the top of the largest nearby hill (which I’ve since learnt is called Mount Bakewell!) we then headed up to the Mount Brown lookout to check out the town site from above.
I think I was getting a little sleepy from the food and sun, as I spent far too long looking down on the scene below and wondering why there were so many beds laid out in a paddock. To be fair, there’s not much etymological difference between a usual resting spot and a final one.
Some towns have a Dog Rock, others have a Wave Rock. York has Bum Rock, complete with a lovely muddy accompanying dribble.
Deciding that nothing could top Bum Rock for our discovery of the day, we bid Western Australia’s oldest inland town farewell and headed back home to Perth.