On a back street in Adelaide’s East End, Sad Cafe should be celebrated for two reasons: 1) Doing not many things but doing them really well; and 2) Being the embodiment of ‘niche’.
It’s all very low-key, indie and inoffensive here: a modest, glass-fronted coffee box with hole-in-the-wall access to a boutique called DAS, which masquerades as a hip haircutter.
Bookish students and bearded Scarborough Fair types congregate, looking for a quiet spot to park their single-gear, sip coffee and forget this morning’s philosophy lecture. Ponderous, melancholy, round-shouldered, hand holding, introspective. We could hurl adjectives at them all afternoon, but the point is these are the kinds of folk that make Sad so… upbeat. Now they have somewhere to go in downtown Adelaide, and they’re not afraid of going there alone. Refreshing!
But even if you’re not Art Garfunkel’s grandson or Gossling, Sad is a great place for a flat white and a sandwich. The menu is tightly edited to say the least (eggs a few ways and sandwiches a few more), but what is on offer is happily substantial.
The Coorong Angus pastrami sandwich on organic sourdough is interleaved with cheddar, cucumber, baby spinach and piquant tomato chutney: flavoursome and solid without being cloying. The milder Tasmanian smoked salmon-on-rye version is just as satisfying, with cream cheese, avocado and a Shiraz sauce sourced from the Barossa wine region.
The dukkha board doesn’t sound too inspiring, but this is potentially the best dukkha you’ve ever tasted: aniseedy and tantalisingly sweet, with a perfect pot of olive oil and generous rounds of toasted sourdough. Wash it down with a Mountain Fresh juice from the Fleurieu Peninsula south of Adelaide (try the apple-and-guava), or another coffee (fair-trade, organic DeGroot brand with organic BD Farm Paris Creek milk from the Adelaide Hills).
Along one wall is a ramshackle display of Beerenberg condiments, also from the Hills, and a retro pew of white-vinyl seats from which takeaway cats chew the fat with the barista. The opposite wall is spangled with butterfly taxidermy and canvasses by local artists, most of which are for sale.
Sip a passion-flower tea? Slip next door and get your fringe fixed? Bunker down with a fat GRR Martin tome and a baked breakky fit for a Winterfell winter? Whichever way you spin it, a visit to Sad should turn your frown upside down