Fairfield's Station Street already has its fair share of action. For a strip that was — only a few years back, surely — no more than a suburban strip for grabbing groceries and running errands, Saturday morning now sees locals swarm to the area (including nearby Fifteen Pounds and the Fairfield Farmer's Market). So it's not surprising that — like every suburb's uprising — other cafes should pop up to make the most of the weekend crowd.
Presumably, that's what C.H. James was founded on. Arguably, it's totally working. The cafe eatery stands out on Station Street like a manicured forefinger — among the grocers and old school coffee spots, it's a perfect execution of branding and clean cafe design. Its doors open onto the street, the open coffee bar serves Small Batch brews both inside and out, and the tables neatly spill out into the arcade next door. It's a magnet to nearly every passerby.
From the outset, it certainly seems like C.H. James has done everything right. An impressive list of providers shows the produce is top notch — you'll find EDS Breads, Rooftop Honey and Dr. Marty's Crumpets scattered throughout the menu. Hell, they even cure their own trout in-house.
Certain dishes shine, like the golden pillows of house made gnocchi with roasted tomato, asparagus and broad beans ($17), and the seared silver trevally ($19). The lighter breakfast dishes, however, are lacking a certain something; the lemon and citrus Bircher with pistachio and lemon balm was without the creaminess of a good Bircher, and the watermelon, orange blossom and minted yoghurt salad would almost work better as a side to lunch (both $10).
That's not to say C.H. James isn't worth a visit — it most definitely is. Mostly, the options are high quality and considered, and stand out amongst the same-same of the north. But with local beers and Pizzini prosecco on the menu too, we recommend heading in post 11am for lunch and a glass of the good stuff.