What a happy surprise. I guess it’s been just over a year since I had a little getaway to the Blue Mountains. Not long after that visit the Leura Garage was transformed from a working mechanics shop to a cafe/restaurant. The process of renovating the space, responsibly and creating a low carbon footprint cafe is well documented on their website. So successful were their efforts that they have won 2 MBA Excellence in Construction awards.
The place is light and airy, the furnishings are comfortable with touches of the industrial, in keeping with the buildings prior function. There are tyres stacked high above one wall, reproduction industrial light shades, concrete floors, old mufflers above the bar and a wall dedicated to look like rust. I also noticed some knee blankets tucked away for those chilly days when diners may be keen to sit outside.
Owner James Howarth and chef Misha Laurent have definitely thought carefully about their menu, keeping it relatively simple. Breakfast is only available on the weekends, there is a limited lunch menu available til 3pm and an all day menu available 1130am until 6pm. They are also open late most nights, details of which can be found on their website here. The owners have been clever in servicing a huge gap in the lunch time dining options which exist around Leura and Katoomba. There are some interesting cafes around but most seem to be stuck in the 90′s serving quiche with side salads of chopped lettuce, grated carrot and alfalfa, sorry, but that’s what I ate for lunch on my last visit. I mean it was fine but a little boring.
It looked like I had arrived just in time before the lunchtime onslaught. I couldn’t believe how busy they became, even turning people away. I guess it was the week after Easter and there was still a holiday crowd lulling around, or maybe that’s a normal Tuesday for them.
Still the menu is interesting and I thought I’d ask the waiter for some recommendations. He thought the bruchetta was a good choice but I wanted something more substantial, paella. Water came to the table quickly upon being seated, follows by a glass of Canobolas-Smith Chardonnay. I love that they support wines from Orange and Mudgee. I’m crazy about the wines coming out of there at the moment. Great new discoveries, I can’t remember trying one I haven’t liked yet, seriously. And if anyone knows me, I can be a pain when it comes to choosing wine. I don’t think it went with the paella but a great wine never the less.
A few people around me seemed to be getting frustrated with the slow service and inability to get the waiters attention. All I can say is chill people, your in the mountains, it’s relaxed here and you might need to relax too!
As you can probably tell I was pretty happy to stumble upon this place. I can imagine it would be great for a relaxed evening meal too. If your walking up the main street in Leura, take a right when you get to the roundabout at the top and your there. Enjoy.