Today I decided to check out a cafe I’ve been meaning to go to since moving to the area. The Old Fire Station Cafe Gallery on High St, Preston, has an air about it. I could tell that I would like it before even going in. I know what you’re thinking, and yes, I do judge books by their covers.
My boyfriend and I decided to go and grab a bite to eat. The building is, you guessed it, an old fire station. A big red brick building, the entry is bright yellow with red accents and the logo is displayed prominently.
The decor has a quirky, artsy feel to it. This has a lot to do with the gallery aspect of the cafe. Nearly every distressed, brick wall has some form of art, all by local artists and for sale. I’d comment on the bright colours, and interesting themes, but the displays change often. Which means there’s always something new to look at. The furniture is kitsch 1950’s mismatched kitchen dining furniture. Think vinyl and laminate.
There are couches and armchairs, it reminds me a little of Central Perk, the cafe hangout from the sitcom Friends. This has a lot to do with the atmosphere, but I’ll get to that. The natural light is incredible, and this is largely thanks to the wall of windows, AKA the Fire station doors.
There’s a bain marie with a selection of appetising lasagnes, slices and muffins and behind this is a chalkboard specials menu.
The service is surprisingly fast, we had our food within ten minutes, unfortunately the one major drawback, possibly the worst thing you’ll hear in this review is that the staff were so rude. I’ve worked in hospitality, and I’m very lenient when places like this are busy, but they weren’t that busy. I was ignored while one woman wiped down a bench in front of me, and I mean, I was ignored for a full two minutes. And then two of the staff had a tiff within earshot of patrons. It was a shock to see this in such a nice-looking cafe.
By the time our burgers arrived, I no longer cared. The sheer amount of fries had subdued my annoyance. We both ordered the Deluxe Chicken burger (mine without bacon). Featuring grilled chicken, lettuce, tomato, pineapple, bacon, and special sauce, on a toasted ciabatta roll. Considering the quality and quantity, $16.90 isn’t too much to ask for.
The chicken fillet was grilled to perfection, there was enough sauce (cannot stand when there isn’t) and it was zesty, and which is probably why it’s so special. The lettuce and tomato were fresh. The ciabatta was crunchy but not tough. While the whole thing was huge, it wasn’t difficult to eat, which is a good thing, when you are as messy an eater as I am. I finished with a soy chai latte. It was perfect. It wasn’t too sweet, the milk wasn’t burnt, it was perfect.
The music was cool, and not cool in the way that only 20 year old would enjoy it, it was eclectic – Nineties Hip Hop and eighties Pop songs. The ambiance was friendly, even though the staff didn’t necessarily convey this, the customers did. Like the music, the customers were eclectic. You had hip patrons in their twenties hanging out in the beer garden, a mother’s group chatting and laughing away, people in suits on their break, elderly ladies enjoying a coffee and discussing their books. I’ve been meaning to find a local cafe that I can use as a default. And The Old Fire Station Cafe Gallery is a front runner. ★★★☆.