Outer eastern suburbia is typically a leafy refuge, often mistaken as hilly outskirts heralded by hippies. And while parts of Lilydale are most definitely lush with greenery and farms boasting local produce, The Lilydale General doesn't reside there; the cafe has taken these elements of the surrounding region and settled amongst a large manufacturing area of the suburb.
You can't miss it: the carefully manicured lawn, green and white striped awnings and a flawlessly painted picket fence stand out against the uninspiring industrial surroundings. It's a great expanse inside, too — high ceilings, window panes streaming sunlight and generous spacing between tables.
The staff are jovial and homely — let them bring you a coffee made with beans from the guys at Coffee Supreme and allow a bit of time for a chat about your day before you place your order. They're locals interested in looking after their fellow residents.
It won't be long before you'll be digging in. The bruschetta with tomatoes, avocado mash, feta, lemon rind and dukkah served on a slice of sourdough with an additional piece underneath ($15) is faultless in flavour, but the serving could be more liberal to compensate for the extra piece of bread and price. Add an egg for an extra two bucks for something more filling. The corn and leek fritters with rocket, tomatoes and feta ($17) are another winning savoury option.
For those with a sweeter tooth, go for the black rice pudding with macadamia granola, lychee and coconut ($13). The fruity flavours are balanced by a light aniseed taste coming from the granola, a pleasant experience for the palate.
Like any good current day cafe, not only has The Lilydale General adopted the smoothies-in-jars phenomenon, they also cover most dietary bases: vegan, gluten free and lactose free options are all available. Fresh sandwiches, big squares of vanilla slice, lemon tarts and a rotating menu of raw desserts make up the glass cabinet at the counter.
Sure, the food isn't unlike what you’d find somewhere closer to the CBD, but it is for Lilydale and, most importantly, it's good quality.
Owned and loved by locals, The Lilydale General is a peripheral delight.