NERAM Harvest: A story

2/05/2013 07:53:00 pm

Some weeks months ago now, I found myself in Armidale (it has, in fact, been many months since I first drafted this post). I was there to visit my Mel, who is was elderly and frail, and who had lately been knocked over by another big mean dog, and I was worried that this was beginning of her end.

Lochiel, South Australia
Photo by Martin Mischkulnig
Image copyright of Martin Mischkulnig
As is our routine, the Mothership and I went to have coffee and a snack on Sunday mid-morning, and found ourselves at the New England Regional Art Museum, where a new exhibition by Tim Winton and photographer Martin Mischkulnig had just opened.

The cafe at NERAM has gone through various incarnations since it first opened following a major extension of the gallery in 1997. I'm pretty sure that it was the first place in Armidale to offer sourdough on its menu. In 2003, we had our Year 12 formal there. I mean... basically, at various important points in time, it has been hottest place in town.

Maybe we were shunned because I was using Hipstamatic instead of Instagram?

In its latest life, the cafe has become NERAM Harvest. Harvest "endeavour[s] to use local, organic, produce wherever possible."

Following an enquiry from the Mothership about catering for a function she was attempting to organise (since NERAM do not permit outside catering), Harvest waited a month before responding with an emailed sneer that, "we don't do sandwiches." Yawn.

Anyway, on a sunny Sunday morning we found ourselves waiting at the point of the cafe that used to say "Please wait to be seated". A number of waiters studiously avoided eye contact until we gave up and seated ourselves at an unoccupied table near the window. After attempting to get the attention of anyone for about 5 minutes, a hipster waiter (a haiter?) stalked up to our table and told us unceremoniously that it was reserved and we had to move.
Um wow, I hope that glassware is organic.

We were shunted outside, and then waited another couple of minutes for our haiter to re-approach with the menu. On ordering coffee and toast, we were informed that breakfast finished at 11am. No alternative was offered. It was 11.05am.

Our coffees took 13 minutes to arrive at the table. I timed it because I was pissy by then and sick of being treated with haughty disdain by someone who was most likely bitter to be working as a waiter. I mean, really: on a Sunday, no normal person even leaves the house before 11am, let alone has breakfast, and, if a table has no indication of being reserved, then as far as I'm concerned, it isn't reserved. Also, if toasted brioche with dragonfly wings is available on the lunch menu (not, of course, an organic, local wing sandwich), then there is a toaster in use in the kitchen, which means that toast can be made.

Oh, and the coffee? The coffee tasted like shit.

Disdain? Two can play at that game.

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