Outfield is in a cute ’50s brick building with porthole windows overlooking a rolling park lawn. Its clientele looks as though it’s just strolled in from a stock-image library in the category “local community”.
Caleb and Belinda Maynard are very lucky. They saw the site when it was a boarded-up block of empty dreams on the edge of Ashfield’s Yeo Park and asked council what the deal was. “I've been driving past this site for years,” Caleb says. “It was built in the ’50s as a child health centre to cope with the baby boom; you know [a place to give] them all the jabs and things. It's been empty for years.”
The space was put up for tender and the Maynards won. You can see why they were successful: Caleb and Belinda have made Outfield feel like it’s always been part of the park. Sun-drenched tables and park benches spill onto the lawn, and the plants and emerald colour scheme meld into the surrounds. “This has all been created with the help of friends,” Caleb says. “Those are my daughter’s pictures on the wall.”
The menu, created with chef Rebecca Hicks (formerly of Bondi’s Bennett Street Dairy), is divided into two sections: tricked-up cafe standards and a picnic menu of bowls, rolls and sambos designed to be eaten on the green. The signature dish is a selection of “opens”: miniature tartines (or open sandwiches) on top of Nonie’s gluten-free bread (sometimes charcoal bread). One is topped with ricotta and peaches, and another with burrata, salsa verde and cherry tomatoes.
Eat in and there’s some interesting breakfast options, such as the Big Bash (spiced pumpkin, avo, potato hash, poached egg), the blackberry and tahini porridge, and the breakfast bowl with chickpeas and pulled eggplant.
Caleb, who was most recently working with Sydney coffee roasters Collective Roasting Solutions (CRS), runs the caffeine offering here, and it’s probably the most interesting coffee option in the immediate area. (CRS is where some of Sydney’s best coffee is roasted, including for cafes such as Edition, Brewtown and Circa).
For milk coffees, Outfield uses ethically sourced Stitch Coffee (which is made at CRS) but also works with other brands.
“Sometimes we'll use the same bean but sourced from three different roasters in the one week. It’s been a bit difficult [to engage people in this] but we've only been here a month. It's just like going on a date, you don't start by talking about your exes, [you] don't freak them out. You have to build trust; ‘Do you enjoy a black coffee? Would you like to try a batch brew?”
Yeo Park, 230 Victoria Street, Ashfield
Tue to Sun 7am–4pm