I was encouraged to visit McGains Cafe by none other than Catherine, the manager of the aforementioned cafe. She said “We’d love you to pop in and try our coffee. People rave about it (and the food, and the ambience) but we’d like your opinion, too … It’ll be worth the effort. I promise.” Flattered to be asked, I took up Catherine’s invitation but in keeping with my modus operandi, did so without Catherine knowing I’d been in. This ensures that I am treated just like anyone else and can give you an unbiased opinion.
So, was Catherine right – was it worth the effort?
For the most part, yes, she is right – it IS worth the effort to drive to Anglesea to sample their fare. I chose to go for breakfast to see what their food was like as well and, since this is a coffee review and not a food review, I’ll just say that the food was really good. But to the coffee …
My heart sank a little when I saw the brand of coffee that they serve – as you will know from previous posts, I am not a great fan of the local Coffee Cartel blends. In the places where I have tried it around the district, I have found that the brew has been too bitter for my taste.
But, I am pleased to report that today’s version was very good – much smoother and less bitter than my experience in other places. I must note at this point that the coffee was not served in a tulip cup and with the larger top surface area, the crema was broken when the coffee arrived. But, at the end of the day, the taste was really good – the best Cartel Coffee I have tasted thus far. Maybe it was different blend. Maybe it was brewed by a better barista. Either way, it was a really good cup of coffee.
And as for the ambience – the cafe is set in the grounds of a nursery and adjacent to an organic food store. So rather than funky hipster or beach side shack, McGains is more earthy and “real” than many other places I have visited on this journey. Certainly somewhere you can relax with friends or family if you are looking for something good on a Sunday morning (or any other day of the week!).
|Address:||1 Simmons Court|
|Telephone:||03 5263 3841|
|Open:||Seven days per week|
|Coffee Suppliers:||Coffee Cartel|
|Headline:||Set in the grounds of a plant nursery and adjacent to an organic food store, there’s something earthy and real about McGains. In my opinion, they brew Coffee Cartel coffee better than CC themselves.|
For the second time today, I thought that I should cruise into a store that had a real “beachy” feel to it and having had the Anglesea General Store recommended by Anna, it seemed to fit the bill.
The Anglesea General Store (also known as Maid Marion’s and, in the past, the Angahook General Store), has been part of the landscape in Anglesea since 1929 but, in 2013, was taken over my new management who undertook some renovations before re-launching.
The store is not your traditional general store – you know the type I mean with everything you could possibly forget or run out of when you head down the coast for a holiday. I could see some basic requisites behind a counter in the back corner but apart from that, the store is a place for eating and drinking good coffee.
And good coffee it was – mine was served in a white tulip cup with a rich crema. If anything, the flavour was slightly bitter, which cost the cafe half a star but certainly still worthy of a “very good” rating. I sat at a bench that looked out the front window and across the Great Ocean Road to the river. Being by myself gave me that flexibility to sit where I wanted to – I suspect a larger group might have to wait for a table, particularly in peak season.
The coffee was certainly good enough to encourage a return visit – I look forward to that opportunity!
|Address:||119 Great Ocean Road|
|Telephone:||03 5263 1420|
|Open:||Seven days per week|
|Headline:||A great spot for coffee – I suspect that it might get a little bit crazy in the store during holiday season but today, there was no problem getting a seat. Coffee served correctly and tasted great!|
The good folks at Sea Eyes in Anglesea might have been a bit fortunate that I chose to visit on a day which simply couldn’t be any better suited to sitting in the outside dining area and enjoying lunch and a coffee. Sunny, 28 degrees and a light breeze just gave whatever followed a real leg-up before we started. That said, this is a coffee review site and not a weather report and so, I should focus on that which was served!
The menu at Sea Eyes is what I would describe as “family-friendly beachside restaurant” – many cafes restrict their menu to sandwiches and other similar snacky foods whereas Sea Eyes extends this to meal that involve the use of knives, forks and chips. You can choose to sit inside the cafe or under umbrellas out the front. The cafe has big windows and so, with them fully open during my visit, even being inside gave you a feeling of being a bit “inside outside”. An address like Great Ocean Road suggests sweeping views and cars and caravans whistling past within inches of your table but be not concerned – this is more like a small suburban shopping strip, separated from the highway by a car park.
And so to the coffee.
I’ve have state up front that I’ve never been a great fan of Grinders coffee. A number of cafes near my previous address used to use Grinders and generally speaking provided a sub-standard cup of coffee. That may have been the baristas. That may have been the coffee. Either way, I’ve generally avoided Grinders where possible in recent times. But at Sea Eyes, I was caught on the hop – I had already ordered my lunch before I’d noticed the brand and so Grinders it was.
Imagine my surprise, then, when my long black arrived and it was certainly worth a four-star rating. It wasn’t the absolute best coffee I’ve had but certainly worth a rating that exceeds “good”. The cup wasn’t exactly the right shape but it also wasn’t a cappuccino cup. The crema was really good and the taste really good, too!
All in all, a great place to have lunch and, of course, to have a really good cup of coffee too!
|Address:||Shop 12-14, 86 Great Ocean Road|
|Open:||Seven days per week|
|Headline:||No doubt assisted by the first really warm, sunny day since my move, but just a great place to sit outside and enjoy a really good cup of coffee.|