A trip to the Sunshine Coast necessitated finding some good eats there. A search beforehand turned up a few options, including White Picket Fence Cafe in Caloundra. It was located along a less busy section of the main shopping area of Caloundra, Bulcock Street, and we managed to nab street parking a short distance away from the cafe.
The exterior of White Picket Fence Cafe was indeed a brilliant white that just about glowed in the bright sunlight. It was a blocky single storey building, not quite touching its neighbours, with the name of the cafe in cursive black font above the entrance. The gates to the laneways on both sides were painted white, but there weren’t picket fences there per se. Perhaps it was more a reference to the idyllic dream life that the phrase “white picket fence” represents, the escape that people who flee the city for the Sunshine Coast hope for.
We walked in and approached the service counter, and were told by staff that we could sit at any table, then return to the counter when we were ready to order. Menus were already placed at most the tables, sandwiched between a bottle with a plant in it, and the condiment containers.
The kitchen occupied part of the rear section of the space, partitioned off from the seating area by a black-painted wall with breeze blocks running along the bottom half. This row of bricks served both as a shelf, and as a decorative feature, with pots of artificial greenery trailing leafy vines from many of the spaces. The other interior walls and ceiling were painted white, giving it a more roomy feel. Multiple curved windows let daylight in, and clumps of long-leaved artificial plants resembling mother-in-law’s tongue along the windowsills added more visual interest.
The were a number of country-style wood-topped tables and chairs indoors, with bench seats running along the wall in one section, lined with floral-printed seat cushions. These, and the greenery that dotted the eatery space, were likely a reference to the building’s previous incarnation as a plant nursery. A picture on the wall captured that history.
There was also outdoor seating, running alongside the building, and accessible from doors at the side and to the rear of the indoor space. The outside looked quite different from the interior, the flamingo pink hue of the side of the building giving the area a festive brightness. Awning stretched overhead shaded patrons from being seared by the sun, and would have kept some drizzle off them if necessary as well.
The menu on their website had piqued our interest, and we had particularly been looking forward to the French toast with marscapone, banana caramel sauce, and fried chicken, as well as the “Incredible hash brown burger”. When we sat down with the menu at the table though, we found that the dishes had changed. We did manage to stifle our disappointment though, and found some other promising options. There were a couple of fusion dishes listed, like the Smoked duck bao, and the Japanese cabbage waffle. There was also the amusingly named dish, The House Deposit (one must begin with that to be able to obtain one’s white picket fence dream). Ultimately though, we had had a hankering for something sweet and savoury piqued by the original promise, and decided to make our own combination of that by ordering their Blueberry and banana hotcakes with the addition of bacon. We would have ordered the Reuben jaffle as our other dish, but had actually had another meal not too long before (more on that later), and so opted for the lighter, but still delicious-sounding option of the King prawn roll.
We placed our order at the service counter, and were given a number to take back to the table. We also picked up a bottle of water and glasses on our return, as wait staff did not seem to be doing so.
Our caffeination choice was soy iced lattes. They use Cat’s Pyjamas coffee, familiar to us, as Freja’s Cafe back in Brisbane also uses their beans. They were nicely chilled, and had a good strength, with slightly berry notes. The straws that came with them had a familiar texture, but had #imnotplasticco printed on them. A quick search took us to the #imnotplasticco site, which explained what they were made of. They were a texturally nicer option than metal, and didn’t get soggy, unlike paper straws.
The King prawn roll was listed in the menu as comprising king prawns, whisky apple slaw, oak lettuce, and bearnaise sauce, on a warm french baguette, with potato crisps. It was promisingly presented, with the prawns seemingly overflowing out the top of the split baguette, bearnaise sauce ladled over them for that dripping, decadent look. A sprinkle of finely chopped chives across it gave it a hint of fresher colour. Eating it did prove to be slightly challenging, as the components had a tendency to be squeezed out as you bit into the roll. On the plus side, we were pleased to find that the ingredients were packed all the way into the baguette, rather than the roll just being split halfway and giving merely the appearance of being filled. There were plenty of prawns tucked into the roll, well coated with a pink seafood sauce as well as that bearnaise sauce. The prawns were just cooked, so they had a juicy pop, and retained their fresh texture. They were just lightly salted, and the mild flavour of the creamy sauces complimented rather than overpowered them. The lettuce and apple slaw were fresh and crisp, and went well with the prawns. The baguette, also a significant part of the dish, was just crisp outside, but light and soft inside. You could tell that it was fresh bread, rather than days old. The potato crisps were, well, potato crisps, with a light snap, and a plain salted flavour that did not detract from the main event. It was, on the whole, a tasty dish that wasn’t too heavy.
The Blueberry and banana hotcakes were described as oven baked hotcakes, with caramelised banana, dark chocolate mascarpone, orange reduction, and vanilla short bread crumble. It was prettily plated, the hotcakes stacked atop each other, resting on a bed of the crumble and sauce, a scattering of blueberries and green parsley giving it a foresty look, the dusting of powdered sugar over it like snow. The quinelle of the dark chocolate mascarpone placed on top of the hotcakes echoed the earthy tone. The bacon was served on a separate plate, but we put it all together, to facilitate the pictures and eating. The hotcakes were clearly freshly made. They walked that line between being airy and dense, so that they had a fluffy, yet moist and cakey texture. Sandwiched between the hotcakes was the caramelised banana, cut in half, and curled up to fit neatly into the area of the hotcake surface. What we did find odd though, was that the skin had been left on the banana, so we had to remove it, take the skin off, and then put the edible part of the banana back. The dark chocolate mascarpone was cream and chocolatey, with just the hint of sweetness to it. The orange reduction was thick and lightly sweet. The short bread crumble gave the dish some crunch, so it wasn’t all just a soft texture. The bacon was thick cut, and had a smokey note. It was cooked well, so that it wasn’t tough or dry. From the menu, they use local wood smoked bacon. The hotcake dish on its own, despite reading as a dessert dish (dessert for breakfast is totally a thing), wasn’t actually cloyingly sweet. We liked having the bacon for some savoury contrast, but the dish has a range of flavours on its own, and also works without it.
Overall, we enjoyed the food at White Picket Fence Cafe. It has interesting dishes that would satisfy a range of palates, with the components being thoughtfully put together (except perhaps for the still-skinned banana). Similarly, the indoor and outdoor seating spaces give you some different options for an eating setting and mood. White Picket Fence is certainly worth visiting if you are on the Sunshine Coast and would like an alternative to fish and chips or burgers.
Price point: $16 to $20 for things more substantial than eggs and toast. Hotcakes on their own $16. King prawn roll $18.
Value: Pretty good, for what you get.
Address: 140 Bulcock St, Caloundra
Phone: 07 5492 6108
Website: White Picket Fence Cafe