Story & photos Matthew Michaelis
Where to start?
I began The Echo’s Good Life weekly journal around five months ago with a story on the Poinciana Cafe in Mullumbimby.
Like most opinions they come from the person expounding them. The Poincy seemed like a good place to launch the column’s first story.
The cafe had employed three of my nieces over the years, I had employed some people who had worked in the cafe, and I had just rediscovered the joys of the place with my fourth child.
It’s a fab place to sit enjoying the freedoms that can evaporate when kids enter the equation. So, while my two-year-old played in the sandpit, it seemed a logical selection of all the places I could have chosen to kick off the section.
The idea was to detail the setting through my experience at the time (with my toddler) then to follow it up with a broader look at the establishment and its iconic place within the Mullum/northern rivers psyche.
This is that follow-up (without a toddler in tow).
I sat watching Jeff Duff, the 70s glam/pop crooner, as part of the Mullum music festival at the Poincy.
Tequila in hand, a balmy evening and an atmosphere that’s really hard to match (apart from the plethora of flying beetles on that night).
The thing with atmospheres is that they rarely just happen, they are, for the most part, created. The previous incarnation of this cafe was quite under-developed, a little tired and yet still had the makings of a great institution.
The current owners took on this opportunity and realised its potential, facilitating its evolution with all the trappings of an eclectic and colourful life – a musical life. Inside and around the bar area, you get the feeling you’re sitting in a shrine, in fact there’s a shrine of sorts dedicated to the world’s great dead musicians in one corner of the bar – à la Day of the Dead – Mexicana style. In Mexico, the Day of the Dead serves as an opportunity to celebrate the lives of friends and family members who have died.
Music is the friend and family these guys appear to celebrate in their decor and their playlists – I always end up whistling, tapping my toes or just remembering that concert I once attended. Great and iconic sounds are played here.
I don’t know the owners Keven and Karin Oxford, though I’ve had words with Keven and been served by Karin, but I guess, given their past businesses and legacy in creating and founding the Byron Arts Factory and the multi-award-winning Bluesfest (running it for many years), that they have lived some very interesting moments.
You don’t need to know this really, you look around and some of the stuff isn’t just collectable; it’s personal. The place is dripping with paraphernalia and souvenirs, all quirky and colourful chattels.
Food here is casual and tasty and the menu is as full as you’d need it to be. The choices here cover most cravings: Thai-style chicken or mushroom, or beef burger, while the all-day breakfast selections are well executed and interesting on the plates I’ve sampled.
Personally, I’ve eaten Baja fish taco and a roast-pumpkin salad (apart from many a breakfast); the Baja fish was served with the zing of a good spice, fried flathead fillets, tangy and fresh inside soft tortilla.
The roast pumpkin salad was heaped and complemented with a generous serving of haloumi, baby spinach, pine nuts and piled high with a garnish of shaved sweet potato all flecked with a sharp balsamic glaze and thin-sliced shallot.
The Asian omelet is heated with a light chili dressing, so don’t feed it to your kids (unless they’ve been naughty, not nice). Service here has personality and the staff are well picked and appear good at the jobs they all do. I love to be entertained free.
It’s in my nature to be cheeky; sometimes my humour falls flat and other times I meet my match – enter stage right – Rachael.
She seems to run the place (even if she isn’t hired to do so). I don’t know this person’s role here but familiarity doesn’t always lead to contempt; you’re in good experienced hands and a with sense of humour too (well I never!).
Everywhere and in all corners there are gems, diamonds and rust (of the rustic sort). Outside, it’s a setting that’s expansive and relaxed, all with that tree and namesake, the Poinciana, plump in the middle.
So, now that you know the whole story, don’t take my word for it – read the signs – ‘sit, relax and gossip’.
Poinciana Cafe. Licensed, open 8am to 4pm, 7 days. 55 Station St, Mullumbimby, phone 6684 4036, web: www.poincianacafe.com.