A FINE CUL­TURAL MIX

The North East is home to some fine cafes, and Myrtle­ford’s Cof­fee Chakra is one of the most unique.

North East Living Magazine - - Contents - words & photos Brad Wor­rall

The North East is home to some fine cafes, and Myrtle­ford’s Cof­fee Chakra is one of the most unique.

COF­FEE and curry? Say it quickly and it doesn’t seem so weird. Say it in the North East and it means only one thing – Myrtle­ford’s Cof­fee Chakra.

Here from an in­dus­trial shopfront on the Great Alpine Road the rich smell of cof­fee fuses with the dis­tinc­tive aroma of re­gional cur­ries.

The Hindu God Ganesh, yes the one with the ele­phant head, over­sees op­er­a­tions from a mu­ral on the side wall.

In­side, staff ferry food and cof­fee back and forth to ta­bles, while chefs dance around each other in a kitchen that is all part of the the­atre.

Am­bi­ent noise rises and falls on the tide of pa­trons, the ebb and flow of the day.

Leonie and Vivek (Vick) Sharma’s en­ter­prise is both eclec­tic and dis­cor­dant – but it works.

“We wanted to cre­ate an ex­pe­ri­ence – whether it be the food or the cof­fee,” Vick said.

“From the mo­ment some­one walks through the door to the point where they leave they are part of the ex­pe­ri­ence.

“It is what we thought three years ago when we opened, it’s what we think now.”

The menu in­cludes tra­di­tional fare – Leonie says a break­fast of poached eggs with av­o­cado, fetta, mint, quinoa and honey grain toast is a sta­ple.

Deca­dent cakes are part of her stock in trade too, but it is the curry that is the stan­dard bearer – ev­ery three days they change but to­day there is a choice that in­cludes Lamb and Potato with Beet­root Raita and rice, a vege­tar­ian Red Lentil and Co­conut Daal with Cu­cum­ber Raita and rice.

All the cur­ries are made from scratch, as is the Chai. The in­gre­di­ents are al­most ex­clu­sively re­gional and sea­sonal – corn frit­ters were on the menu cour­tesy of a mas­sive har­vest just down the Great Alpine Road, and there are smoked meats from Wan­garatta.

The cof­fee too will please the lo­ca­vore – beans from Ti­mor, Africa and be­yond are roasted on site, in the cafe it­self.

Self-taught roaster Vick says the process is more feel than pre­scrip­tion.

“I love my cof­fee and I started to re­search it – read more and I knew that I could make a cof­fee but what was the next log­i­cal step and so I be­gan roast­ing,” he said.

“You have to feel it, a lit­tle like a good barista and the way they treat their cof­fee mak­ing, it is not a push but­ton thing, you sense how long the beans need to be roasted, what’s best for that batch.”

For a cou­ple from East Brunswick the ques­tion beck­ons – why Myrtle­ford?

“We love Myrtle­ford, the sense of com­mu­nity and I felt that there was some­thing miss­ing in all the great cafes in the North East – I thought there was a need for some­thing more than cake and cof­fee,” Vick said.

“So it just made sense that it be here in Myrtle­ford – there is all this traf­fic go­ing to Bright, com­ing back from the moun­tains – we just needed to give them a rea­son to stop.

“You com­bine the cof­fee, with the roast­ing and Leonie’s menu and it all came to­gether.

“So now we have the sup­port of the com­mu­nity, tourists make a bee-line for us on their way to the moun­tains and we get peo­ple trav­el­ling here reg­u­larly from the Bor­der and be­yond just for lunch, so to me that’s proof we are do­ing some­thing right.”

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LOVE THE LIFE / Leonie and Vick Sharma have turned their Great Alpine Road café into a tem­ple for food and cof­fee lovers.

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