You never know what you’ll come across when you get away from the big smoke. Everyone is pretty familiar with the talent showing up on the coastal strip, particularly on the south end, but head out into the ‘burbs towards the highway, and even beyond, and there’s some damned great eating to be had.
We’d heard there had been a funky makeover of a space underneath a Nerang bike shop, so finding Cadence on the lower level of Just Ride took only a process of elimination. Funky indeed! The very industrial look of distressed timber, bricks, timber and concrete set against the stainless steel kitchen fits right in with the cycle brigade, being close to the velodrome and several riding routes.
What we weren’t prepared for was the food. Fresh tuna topped with guacamole salsa on the tacos? Seriously? Banana protein pancakes? House made smoked BBQ sauce on slow-braised pulled pork? Cadence’s kitchen staff could tell the average café a thing or two about great food! It was obvious from our first dish.
“We knew from the beginning that we wanted to do things differently to other cafés,” Cadence’s co-owner Kylie tells us later. “We wanted to employ chefs, not cooks. We were really fortunate that both of our chefs were already customers and keen bike riders looking for a change of lifestyle.”
In fact the owners, Kylie and Mark, have scored not one but two ‘five star chefs’, Head Chef Carlos Peixoto (ex-Versace and O’Reilly’s) and Chef Marco Passos (also ex-Versace and Moo Moo). It’s serious talent descending on Nerang. Carlos tells us that he’s a mountain biker who loves mixing with his own. He took on the challenge of helping owners Kylie and Mark to refit the café, building the tables themselves from recycled Beechmont timber to add character.
His food philosophy? “I think it’s great to use a bit of technique, a bit of ‘mis en place’, and put together simple food with great flavours,” he says. Of course it’s not that simple. Given his previous experience there must have been adjustments to fit the clientele and cost factors; changes he’s enjoyed.
But that’s the trend. As we dine out more often and far less auspiciously, there’s been a scaling down of fine dining venues, leading to some really talented chefs choosing alternative lifestyles. It’s a ‘win/win’ for both them and the dining public: they get to work in daylight hours and have more face contact with both their families and the dining public, while we’re blessed with a huge improvement in daytime dining standards.
“We started with a specific goal, to build a community and culture around the bike shop,” says Kylie, “a social hub where people can gather to meet before or after rides or runs. We want to maintain a family-friendly atmosphere with a playground for small children and lots of seating nearby.”
Cadence has been an amazing new addition to Nerang that locals have relished. With ambience and the choice of indoor/outdoor dining, cyclists catch up after their early morning ride, while workers use it as their lunch stop, even though many have to eat and run!
The weekends are more laid back, with families and even large groups gathering at a central place half way between Brisbane and Byron Bay, Brisbane and Binnaburra or Lamington National Park.
While the menu falls into the healthy eating category, it also caters for a variety of dietary preferences – gluten free and vegetarian options through to traditional. There’s still some menu tweeking going on. Lunch has been a hastier affair than expected, with many workers having only 30 minutes to commute, dine and run.
Nevertheless, this venue is well appreciated for its clever design – a large kitchen and servery, its own bathroom facilities, open spaces expanding onto grassy lawns and a dedicated playground, its edges shadowed by large gums. Think of it as a little dining oasis landed in the middle of retail and industry; exactly the sort of space where you could enjoy a chat and relaxed meal. What a valuable addition to the community!
75 Nerang Connection Rd., Nerang Ph: 07 5636 9295
Open Mon – Fri 6am – 2pm; Sat – Sun 6am – 1pm
This review has also been published on Blank GC.