The cafe is the creation of three country boys – James McIntyre, Dan Morton and Jack Nelligan – who decided to put their university degrees aside and try their hand at creating a pop-up café or bar.
“When we realised commercial real estate prices were too high for us, we would walk around the city looking for dead space that we could make more appealing,” says McIntyre, a qualified town planner.
“We found this concrete-paved block on the corner of Hindley and Liverpool streets with four lights and two bench seats – we think it was someone’s attempt at creating a park – and approached the council for some information.
“We learned it was owned by SA Power Networks, who kept it for possible future expansion of the substation next door. This meant that we could pursue a commercial lease and extend our vision from a two-by-two shed selling coffees to something more permanent.”
Morton, a qualified plumber and gasfitter, installed an old shipping container on the block and the trio scoured their families’ farms for bits and pieces they could use to fit it out as a bar and kitchen. They have created a shack from recycled materials which is set behind a lawned area with outdoor seating and a large vintage trunk full of outdoor games such as bocce and rugs and pillows.
“Peter Rabbit grew from the idea of a park that’s fun and a little bit playful and a little bit nostalgic – we all grew up with Peter Rabbit,” say McIntyre.
“We have two resident rabbits, sisters Flopsy and Mopsy, and the strawberries in the barrow at the front are from my Grandma’s yard.” (Flopsy is obviously the one with the floppy ear.)
Indoors, they have more seating, with a few old rugs thrown over the concrete pavers, a basketball hoop, a slow combustion heater and a rustic water feature made from old watering cans and downpipes feeding into an old tin washing trough.
Nelligan was a practising physiotherapist who loved to cook and took charge of the kitchen at Peter Rabbit. He has a smoker out the back and makes all his own sauerkraut, mustards and pickles.
The menu features all-day breakfasts and a few lunch dishes. It’s a simple and honest offering driven by good-quality ingredients.
The drinks list is a little more exotic, including Ti Kwan Yin, a fermented green tea; a Grilled Peach Old Fashioned drink with thyme, bitters and a grilled peach; an excellent Bloody Mary, and Cascara, a “tea” made from the skin of coffee beans with a flavour and texture similar to rooibos tea and described by the owners as tasting “like apple pie”.
The original idea, when the cafe opened late last year, was that Peter Rabbit would serve university students and then the local workers.
“There have only been seven weeks since we opened that uni has been on, so we have had a lot of office workers, tourists from nearby hotels, university and SAHMRI staff,” says McIntyre.
“It’s great when your second target market is your top. During the school holidays, we had countless families with young children through – this place is made to be enjoyed.”
Favourite dish: Brioche burger with pulled lamb, slaw, pickles, labneh (a Middle Eastern-style fresh cheese made from yoghurt) and house sauce ($12, pictured top). Apart from the bun, all the ingredients for this burger are made in-house: the slow-cooked lamb, the mayonnaise for the purple cabbage slaw, the labneh and the capsicum sauce. The burger not only looks good, the sweet, tender pulled lamb tastes great combined with the creamy labneh, the tang of the pickles and fresh crunch of the coleslaw. This burger is really good value.
Other dishes: Chicken Tagine ($18). Moroccan spiced chicken, sweet potato, green olives, flaked almonds and coriander on a bed of cous cous. Another excellent-looking – and generous – dish with all the right components. The cous cous was excellent, though the chicken was slightly dry and could have done with a little salt.
Other notable dishes on the menu include Dukkah Poached Eggs on toasted sourdough with labneh, hazelnut dukkah and pomegranate seeds ($14); Breakfast Guacamole on toasted sourdough with labneh, avocado mixed with preserved lemon, green chilli, garlic, lime and coriander served with a poached egg, tomato and bacon ($14); and Zucchini Fritters with smoked salmon, dill labneh and a soft poached egg ($16).
Something sweet/to drink: There are no desserts listed on the menu, but there was a selection of cakes, pastries and sweet slices available at the counter.
Coffee is by local roasters 1645 Coffee Roasters at Glynde (whose son Giovanni Clemente works as a barista at Peter Rabbit) and is available in specialty single-origin and blends in espresso and cold-brew styles.
Cnr Hindley and Liverpool Streets, Adelaide, 0428 132 704
Open Monday to Thursday, 7.30am to 3.30pm; Friday, 7.30am to 10pm.
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