The Velo Project is a funky little place on the Sunshine Coast that we think about visiting every time we’re in the area since we chanced upon it a couple of years ago. We have had varying degrees of success though, as at assorted times we have been there when they weren’t open, or just after the kitchen had closed. With a bit of planning this time, we managed to make it there in time to get food.
It is a standalone shop in a residential area, and you have to be either determined that that is your destination or pretty randomly wandering to get there. Housed in a single storey building, the outside of it blends with its surroundings. White walls, with simple black lettering on the front, of which the word “Velo”, stylised to bicycle bits, might be the only thing you can make out from the road.
Once you approach the threshold, however, things look quite different. A sign at the entrance lets you know to wait to be seated. You can see in, though, to what looks like it could be an antique store.
It is easily described as having eclectic decor. There is a shelf filled with old books, and some board games. There is a bicycle perched on the shelf. Different sets of tables and chairs make up the seating arrangements, from a long wooden communal table, to a coffee table that is made from a display for someone’s teaspoon collection. A mannequin is seated at one of the tables if you don’t want to eat alone.
Music from the likes of the Beatles and the Beach Boys was playing. It has a laid-back, relaxed atmosphere, good for a weekend catchup or chillout. The front of the cafe is open to the road, so it is very much at the ambient temperature of the day. Some ceiling fans keep the air moving. Because of that openness and the copious wooden furnishings, sound is well-absorbed, so that even when it is crowded, there isn’t a cacophony of noise.
There is also more seating in a back courtyard area.
We were shown to seats, and water and menus brought out. On the side of the table was a set of alphabet blocks that were a more entertaning alternative to the standard set, starting with A is for Afro.
The menu comes to you within volumes of the New Knowledge Library encyclopedia, repurposed after Google took over the realm of knowledge content and organisation. Funnily enough, and perhaps intentionally, encyclopaedia is a greek-derived word, with enkyklios, which the encyclo part came from, meaning circular, so like a wheel. Of which a bicycle, or velo, necessarily has two. See what they did there?
On the menu pages, you have breakfast options, available from 7am to 2pm, food available from midday, and drink options. There are also some daily specials written up on a chalkboard near the service counter.
We started with drinks, new specials they were promoting on another sign near the entrance, a matcha latte and a dandelion latte. Both, unfortunately, needed to be stronger. As soon as they arrived at the table, we could tell that they were weak, the matcha one in particular. The promised flavours were barely present. (See the Sinmei Tea post for how a matcha drink should look, for an indication that enough is actually in there to taste right.) We did let them know, and they took the drinks back and added more matcha and dandelion to them. It was better after that, but still not as strong as they should have been.
For food, we decided on the Hunters Breakfast and the Bad Hunters Breakfast (no apostrophes as transcribed from the menu). The Hunters Breakfast has ham and sausage, and amusingly, the Bad Hunters Breakfast has no meat.
The Hunter’s Breakfast was a soft boiled egg, ham off the bone, a pork and sage sausage, roasted garlic field mushrooms, grilled haloumi, confit tomatoes, sweet tomato chutney, rocket, and toasted ciabatta. When the top of the egg was lopped off, it had an appropriately runny yolk. The thick cut ham slices were nicely savoury. The haloumi, mushrooms, and sausage were well cooked. The bread didn’t have the right texture to be ciabatta though, and seemed more like a regular white bread loaf. A denser bread with a more hardy, crunchy crust would have gone better. The components were well cooked, but it wasn’t clearly better than big breakfasts we had had elsewhere.
The Bad Hunter’s Breakfast was potato and mushroom gratin, sateed kale, sweet corn, poached eggs, and fresh parmesan. The gratin had thin slices of potato, cooked so that they retained some texture instead of being mushy, with a sliver of a crispy crust on top. There were slices of soft mushroom sandwiched in the middle of the potato layers. The sweet corn was served as a creamy, cheesy corn puree. That was probably the tastiest part of the dish. The poached eggs had good, runny yolks. The sauteed kale was, well, kale. There wasn’t a lot actually on the plate, and on its own, it would not have been a particularly filling breakfast.
On the whole, the Velo Project is a fun space to be in for the entertaining decor. You can easily while the time away examining their trove of trinkets or perusing the books. Their aim to support local farmers and local suppliers is also a good one. The food we had, however, was not as good as recalled from the previous time we ate there (it was a very good cured fish dish). The drinks, as mentioned, also needed improvement.
Price point: Breakfast items $16 to $22.50, excluding simple toast. Lunch items $15 to $17.
Address: 19 Careela Street, Mooloolaba
Phone: 07 5444 8693
Website: The Velo Project