The cafe scene in the hills has exploded in the last few months. There is something about the area that is attracting some serious hospo talent. This includes chef Brad Johnston (ex head chef Print Hall Bar), his partner Jaclyn Noel and friend Matt Nguyen (both ex managers of Rockpool) who opened Mason & Bird.
A tree change is what they were after, and they found it in the hills community of Kalamunda. The cafe is located at the Zig Zag cultural centre and offers both alfresco and indoor seating. The furniture, handmade by Jaclyn’s dad Lloyd, is made from wood such as marri, jarrah, karri and acacia timber. The heavy timber features are not by accident; the cafe is named after Ben Mason and Francis Bird who ran one of the first timber mills in the Darling Ranges.
The small all day menu delivers on originality and flavour. There’s dishes such as homemade maple cocoa pops ($9) served in a little bag with a side of milk, paleo savoury waffles ($17) served with poached eggs, spiced nuts and seeds, and mushrooms and then there’s the toasties. Triple cheese ($11) with kefalograviera, gruyere and cheddar or if you prefer the simpler things in life – try the OldSkool ($9) – Heinz baked beans and cheese.
Coffee is by a small supplier called Little Owl Roasting Company. The coffee here is super creamy thanks to the use of un-homogenised Sunnydale milk. For those that don’t know, unhomegenised milk will still separate so the cream sits on top – like the old days of milk for anyone who remembers! (For the record – I don’t).
My friend Cath had the speck and egg burger ($17). The thick cut speck is from local Kalamunda butcher Sebastian’s and is served on a brioche bun with gruyere cheese and house made BBQ sauce. It’s the little touches such as the speck instead of regular bacon, gruyere instead of cheddar and chef made BBQ sauce that turned a bacon and egg roll into something worth writing home about. I also loved the charcoal branding on top of the bun. It gave a little something to the presentation.
Bromwyn went with the vego on toast ($15) – M&B’s take on the classic smashed avocado. Sourdough is topped with avocado, eggs and charred corn salsa. This was a fresh tasting, bright brekky with poached eggs that would win awards in the yolk porn department. The charred corn salsa added a smokey flavour with a lime juice tang complimenting the creamy avocado. Think guacamole.. only better.
I chose the roasted sobrassada ($17) served with fresh tomato and fried eggs on top of sourdough. Like the speck, the sobrassada is also from Sebastian’s Butcher. It’s a Spanish sausage, similar to chorizo, from the Balearic Islands. The roasting had given a good caramelisation and the fried eggs hit the spot with their runny yolks. The tomato salsa added bright colour and freshness to cut though the strong flavours from the sobrassada. All the elements were balanced and there were no complaints about the serving size – there was plenty of the good stuff!
Mason & Bird is worth a trip up into the hills for. Farmers markets are also held every Sunday and are the perfect place to walk off a delicious breakfast and a couple of great coffees.
7 Williams Street, Kalamunda (Zig Zag Cultural Centre)
Breakfast served every day 8am–3pm