Ricardo’s Cafe, Macquarie

  • Consistently yummy food
  • Child and family friendly
  • Coeliac knowledgeable staff
  • Amazing looking cakes

On Sunday Michael, Milly and I went to one of my favourite cafés  in Canberra, Ricardo’s. We’ve been going to Ricardo’s for years, both before and after my diagnosis. I have always felt safe eating there, and the staff and food is always enjoyable. So this review is probably going to be a bit biased!

Ricardo’s is in Macquarie, and at weekends it gets very busy. Finding a car park can take a while and if you haven’t booked a table, you can find yourself waiting for a table although I’ve never waited longer than about 5 minutes with just the family.

Ricardo’s is inside the Jamison Plaza and is opposite a small playground. It’s a great spot for mums and bubs brunches, as well as family lunches with the children. There are always high chairs available and I’ve always been very comfortable breastfeeding there. Inside the café it’s bright and noisy. There are a lot of tables inside and at the front there are the tills, and two long glass cabinets containing the cakes. The cakes always look shiny and interesting. They’re well labelled, identifying if the cake is gluten free and the flavours.

On a previous outing, I discussed with a staff member how the cakes are stored because they tended to intersperse the gluten free cakes with the gluten filled cakes, making me reluctant to buy them due to cross contamination. I was told this feedback would be passed onto the owner, and was pleased to see that on this trip, the top row of one of the cabinets had all the gluten free options placed together.

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We arrived around 11am, and had to wait for about 3 minutes for a table. There weren’t any tables available inside so we sat in the covered outdoor seating area which they had set up with a high chair. The outdoor heaters were running so despite it being a brisk 13 degrees, it was pretty snug and we didn’t need coats on. In the summer months, the covers are lifted allowing people to get to and from the playground, and bring their dogs with them.

Ricardo’s has an all-day breakfast and lunch menu, as well as a kids menu. These change with the seasons and are usually pretty interesting. Gluten free options are available on request and there isn’t any surcharge for gluten free bread.

On previous visits, I’ve discussed my dietary requirements with the staff and I’m confident that they have a good knowledge about coeliac’s and have taken care with cross contamination. There are certain things I am unable to eat at Ricardo’s, particularly the deep-fried items like hot chips.

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Fruit toast

We ordered 3 meals and two drinks and it came to a total of $55.30. Milly had fruit toastfrom the kids menu, Michael ordered the calamari and paella with a large skim flat white, and I had the green eggs and ham benedict with a large skim decaf flat white. Michael ordered at the counter and when he told staff I was coeliac, they noted it down.

 

Our coffee and food came out promptly despite the number of diners. We usually get small coffees because larger mugs aren’t as good, although they were ok this time around. Michael prepared the fruit toast for the baby because it contained gluten. He said it was a dense sourdough and it contained raisins and fruit peel. Unlike some fruit toast, the peel was fresh, not old and crystallised, so it was not very sweet. Michael said it was delicious although it was probably better suited for adults than children.

Michael’s calamari was also good although it didn’t look as polished as their other dishes. The calamari was well cooked and the paella was surprisingly spicy. The combination of squid and paella was a bit unusual but still tasty and filling.

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Calamari

My green eggs and ham benedict was also lacking the usual finesse other dishes had at Ricardo’s but it more than made up for this in taste. The eggs were perfectly poached, bright orange and runny. There were masses of leg ham, thinly sliced and delicious, with the same texture as bacon but not as salty. The salsa verde hollandaise was tart and tasty, and went perfectly with the lemon, green pea and cottage cheese mixture, which balanced the sweetness of the pea with the umami of the cottage cheese very nicely.

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Green eggs and ham benedict

This all came on a slice of gluten free bread which is the only criticism. The bread was good however there wasn’t enough of it and it was a little soggy. These are only minor issues though because the bread was really just a vehicle for all the other yummy components!

After our mains, we decided that we’d treat ourselves to one of the amazing looking desserts on offer. I ordered the gluten free peach melba and the TNT for Michael which came to $19.80. Like all the cakes, these two looked brilliant and were tasty, although they never taste quite as good as they look.

The peach melba was a small layer of cake, a layer of berry jam, and strawberry and peach mousse encased in a white chocolate shell. Both the peach and strawberry mousse were smooth and very sweet, however there wasn’t enough of the peach mousse, making the peach melba more of a berry dessert. With the white chocolate shell, the dessert was overpoweringly sweet which made it difficult to differentiate between flavours.

Michael had the same review about the TNT. This was a rocky road flavoured mousse in the shape of a stick of dynamite, ‘lit’ with edible gold foil, and it looked amazing. It contained walnuts and marshmallows, as well as a smooth chocolate mousse. There was also a large, firm layer of berry jam which Michael said would have been better if it was distributed more evenly throughout the cake. The TNT was also very sweet making it hard to tell what the flavours were.

I like Ricardo’s. The food is always good, the staff are friendly and are on board with my coeliac requirements, and it’s a busy and bustling environment. My only criticism is that although the cakes looks great, the fact that they’re all sweet and mousse-y lets them down a bit.

Jamison Plaza, Bowman Street, Macquarie ACT,2614
02 6251 2666
http://ricardoscafe.com

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