Ben Allen has been in the hospitality game for more than a decade. He’s worked behind some of the city’s busiest coffee machines, including at his parents’ former business, Nature’s Providore in Malvern.
He opened his 40-seater cafe on South Terrace – Where We Met – late last year year, and this time it’s his name on the lease.
The cafe doubles as a retail outlet for Kangarilla coffee roaster Dawn Patrol. Shop the roaster’s full portfolio or a try rotating single origins on site. Ben has forged a strong relationship with Dawn Patrol owners Dom Ossa and Nick Suggit through regular journeys south. They helped him acquire the Mod Bar espresso machine.
Most of it’s hidden under-counter, save three silver heads protruding like Loch Ness monsters. It dissolves the barrier between server and customer. “We want people to feel like more than just dollars in the till,” Ben says.
Here, the menu adheres to an uncomplicated, flavour-first methodology. Ben's mother Kate is in the kitchen, whipping up dishes such as bruschetta with Mylor Bakery bread, Paris Creek Farm cow's-milk cheese, locally grown tomatoes and homemade basil pesto. “When the produce is this good you don’t need to mess with it,” says Ben.
He’s tapping back into relationships with local producers that were forged at Nature’s Providore. “We get a [weekly] call from Patlin Growers saying, ‘We’re picking in the fields right now – what do you need?’,” says Kate. Lentils, white beans and chickpeas come from Simon Bryant’s Dirty Inc. They pick up the rest at the Wayville Farmers’ Market.
The space itself – at the base of an apartment building – was a rare find. Though little more than a grey shell, it came preloaded with a grease arrester (saving Ben around $25,000), plumbing and floor-to-ceiling windows that capitalise on killer parklands views.
Where We Met
114 South Terrace, Adelaide
Mon to Fri 7.30am–3pm
This article was updated on April 27, 2019. It first appeared on Broadsheet on December 13, 2018. Menu items may have changed since publication.