After spending "many hours kicking the footy or pushing the kids on a swing and wishing [we] could get a good coffee nearby," inner west locals Caleb and Belinda Maynard decided to make their hopes a reality. And the 1950s former baby health clinic in the outfield of Ashfield's Yeo Park was the perfect place to do just that. The duo converted the heritage-listed building into an "extension of people's backyards" where locals could get quality food and coffee in a relaxed parkside setting, and Outfield was born.
Since opening in April 2019, the inner west cafe has become a central meeting point for the community. "Bringing that cafe culture to the park means people will linger, connect and socialise...it's a no brainer for anyone with kids of all ages," explains Caleb. "They can cry, play, laze about and drop their ice blocks on the grass." With no limit to outdoor seating, blankets to borrow and lots of friendly rounds of cricket between strangers, locals are making the most of the outdoors at this grassy eatery.
The menu is, conveniently, a modern take on picnic fare, with a touch of green on every plate. There are hints of native ingredients like lemon myrtle and wattleseed, and a focus on gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian options. Naturally, there are also cricket puns: Eggs Before Wicket translates to eggs on sourdough ($12); Summer Bash is potato hash with a poached egg and spring pea salad with mojo verde ($19); and King of Spin sees cured kingfish paired with pickled radish, herb salad, labneh and a poached egg ($24).
There are also open sandwiches ($10–14) served on Nonie's charcoal bread, haloumi breakfast rolls ($14), burgers ($16) and fresh salad bowls ($16–17), as well as giant house-made cookies, brownies and other sweet treats. The team can even arrange catering for you to suit any size picnic party. Coffee is from Stitch, roasted by Nawar Adra and the team at Collective Roasting Solutions, with rotating single origins for filter and black coffee. There's a lineup of house-made sodas and kombuchas, too.
On days when the weather is bleak, and less than picnic perfect, the cafe has the indoors covered, too. Inspiration for the space was drawn from the mid-century and art deco eras, sunshine pours through the windows and decorative plants and different shades of green reflect the outside environment. You'll also find artworks from Caleb and Belinda's home, including pieces by their 11-year-old budding artist daughter and bird portraits from their good friend and photographer, Leila Jeffreys.
Images: Kimberley Low
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