Bayside locals are lucky to have Brighton Schoolhouse on their doorstep. It sits in the most stunning Downtown Abbey-esque surroundings, with manicured lawns and a round turning circle next to the church (though the New Street high street frontage is less picturesque).
The heritage listed stone building was built in 1842 and was an original schoolhouse. The decor retains the cathedral vaults and some monastic boarding school dining-room elements such as the long communal tables and round light fittings.
Old school chairs and desks still abound and there’s even some school lockers in one corner, but don’t worry you won’t feel like you’re back in Year 5 – they’ve been hipster-fied with greenery, a long banquette, high stools and some fun murals.
The all day breakfast and lunch menu focuses healthy, seasonal and sustainable dishes all named with eye-rolling schoolhouse puns.
I order Ja’mie: Private School Girl’s Heirloom Tomatoes ($18.50). I am astonished by the size of the dish – there are probably a dozen tomatoes atop two slices of crusty olive bread slathered with avocado puree, a few dabs of ricotta and basil pesto and a perfectly poached egg wobbling to one side. I love the addition of popped grains to add textural crunch to an otherwise simple dish.
I also try Screech’s Saved by the Bell Pancakes ($18.50). It’s a pretty dish with two fat raspberry studded buttermilk pancakes, a huge ball of white chocolate ice cream, a hairdo of pistachio fairy floss and again I love the maple and ginger crumble for the crunch.
What Brighton Schoolhouse does really well is cater for children. There’s easy pram access, high chairs, change facilities, a short children’s menu with colouring-in, a chalkboard, toys and even a fenced playground.
I really enjoyed my delicious and relaxed breakfast at Brighton Schoolhouse and was a bit surprised that it wasn’t busier on a weekend morning – maybe the bad weather? The menu is quite inventive, with twists on the standard-issue cafe offerings. Most dishes nudge close to the $20 mark but the serving sizes are huge and could easily be shared.