In Short: Stand By Me has quickly become our favourite little cafe in Canberra. The decor of the cafe is like a trip back to the 70s and it’s a great place to chill and seek refuge from the depths of winter. When the sun’s out there’s space outside to take in the rays too. Outstanding service combined with delicious food and expertly made coffee. Get the address in your maps app of choice and get in there ASAP!
With Stand By Me, service begins even before you step into the café. Standing outside on weekends is a friendly face, who will arrange a table for you. It’s this level of service which is a primer to the experience once you do sit down for breakfast or lunch.
Once inside the café and perusing an impressive menu, the first thing that struck me is the super organised layout. The service section of the café is on one side while seating and tables are laid out on the opposite, creating a channel for people and staff to move around comfortably. From the outside, the café might look like there is not a lot of seating, but don’t be fooled, as there’s plenty of room up front and out back.
The whole space has a very retro decor,with the 70’s style photos on the wall, flower pattern lamp shades, loads of vinyl records, old penguin books, and exposed red brick walls with white patterned tiles. My favourite is the abstract painting on the back wall that double as a cool conversation starter.
But enough about the decor. The main question is, does the café also deliver with its coffee and food. The answer to that is a definite yes.
Coco and Viner Sacha has been down in Canberra for a few weeks, and has sought refuge at Stand By Me on many a morning. He has come to know the coffee quite well and starts most days here with a flat white. Stand By Me source their beans from Roastworks which hale from Sydney’s lower north shore. A blend specially crafted for Stand by Me, the Honest Joe is characterised by smoothness and beautiful caramel notes. Of course, the magic is completed by the baristas who deliver perfect cups of coffee with just the right amount of warmth and beautiful silky texture.
Sacha had the Splashed Avocado, consisting of sourdough toast, half an avocado, and 2 poached eggs, served with a pesto, pickled green chilli chimichurri sauce, garlic yoghurt, and a crisp tomato salad with a side of Aleppo butter to go with his toast. The highlight is the earthy herbaceous flavours from the pesto and the impressive spicy chimichurri, combined with the creamy avocado flavours and crisp, sweet cherry tomatoes that work together with the perfectly oozy poached eggs. It’s all beautifully plated in vibrant colours that really make it a delight to relish.
One really interesting item for me is the SBM French Toast. The French Toast component is a constant, but the sides that accompany it change every week. So it always a surprise to look up at the specials board to discover what’s riding along with your toast! This week, it baked beans, panko crumbed pork schnitzel, and a fried egg with bbq sauce. This is not quite your usual French Toast accompaniment of maple syrup, fruits, and berries. Unusual combination you say, yeah maybe, but does it work in my opinion ? hell ya! It’s like sweet meets savoury, east meets west, the best of both worlds. For me, I went with the savoury first, eating the delicious succulent pork schnitzel with the barbeque sauce and baked beans, followed by the fried egg and then I left the piece de resistance to the last, the 2 thick slices of French Toast, perfectly coated in an egg wash and pan fried til golden brown. I would have to say that it was finger licking good to the last morsel.
On a return visit, Sacha had me feeling envious as he messaged me to say that he was digging SBM’s Gran. You would be too, just look at the photo below! It’s a berry extravaganza with raspberries, blueberries, and cranberries. Joining the berry trio is passionfruit and kiwi. All on a generous bowl of granola with a huge dollop of yoghurt, and cute little bottle of milk. A celebration of textures, satisfying, and most of all, delicious.
When you are done with your meal and are ready to pay and leave, on your way out, look out for the framed lyrics of the famous Ben E. King song on the cafe wall, a nod to the roots of the cafe’s name. This is one cafe that I would Stand By for sure.