“When you go up there, you have to visit this fabulous cafe right at the bottom of the main street in Katoomba. It’s just lovely inside and so full of atmosphere, and very natural and cozy”.
Armed with this description from my not quite mother-in-law, K and I went in search of this cafe for a late lunch after returning from a morning trip to the Jenolan Caves. On a side note, the Caves are absolutely spectacular and simply other-worldly, and I highly recommend the experience to anyone visiting the Blue Mountains.
We found the Common Ground Cafe and with one look inside, knew that it was the same place described to us. It’s not unlike what you might expect to see if you were to walk into a pub in Hobbiton in Middle Earth. All the tables and benches were carved out of timber and finished by hand. All the wait and kitchen staff are what you would call hippies, with long-hair, hand-woven shirts and closely cropped facial hair.
After being shown to a table upstairs, I slowly began to realise that K and I were on very unfamiliar territory. As staunch atheists, we had unwittingly wandered into a cafe run by the Twelve Tribes Christian organisation – they weren’t just laid back artsy bohemians of the Blue Mountains. The brochures I saw around us were proclaiming The Glory of God, and other such messaging. This was no Middle Earth.
However, we were starving by this point so stayed and ordered. I ordered a classic Reuben sandwich, served with crisps on the side and a dill pickle too. K ordered a Deli Rose sandwich, similar to the Reuben but with roast beef and onions. For drinks, we ordered a Lemon Mate (strange, the flavour wasn’t quite to my taste) and a Mango Smoothie (delicious!).
This was hands down, the absolute best Reuben sandwich I’ve eaten outside of America. I’d even go as far as to say that it was better than those I had overseas because it was more manageable. I got used to my American Reubens being stacked with about twenty layers of silverside – this had a manageable five layers, and perfectly melted gooey cheese and flavourful saeurkraut. Wonderfully filling and satisfying as a late lunch.
Overall, I rate Common Ground Cafe an 8 out of 10. Service was a little slow when we were there (though, it was three in the afternoon), but the food was simple and hearty enough to make up for it. I think next time I return, I’m going to have to try some of the desserts which I saw a few other tables enjoying!