Middle Ground is a quiet, cosy cafe on the corner of Station and Merrigang Streets, in Bowral. It is the perfect antidote to life’s stress and strife. And hunger. Don’t forget hunger – the food is amazing and leaves you with that beautifully pleasant full up feeling that’s not too much, not too little, not simply ‘just right’ but also with an added smugness of all the goodness you’ve just ingested and digested.
From the moment you set foot inside the eatery, you’re enveloped in a feeling of calm, quiet and nurturing. This sentiment carries through and amplifies as take your seat, with unobtrusive, folky beats filtering through the sensationally curve-sculptured space and haven of creativity.
The staff is amazing. Every person working at Middle Ground literally beams with happiness and warmth. They’re generally glad to see you, and give you a helping hand with a phone, laptop of iPad charger, or indeed let you sit there for a few hours and finish a big fat deadline.
“Middle Ground’s primary focus is to create balance through mindfulness,” reveals owner operator Rhyanan Behn, who at just 26 years of age, is wise beyond her years. Born and bred in Bowral, with a three-year stint in Byron Bay, Rhyanan simply doesn’t stop living that ethos.
As well as running Middle Ground, she is completing a full degree in nutrition. This is evident in the thoughtfully designed menu, that perfectly marries exquisite flavours with healthy options in locally made bagels, nourish bowls and cakes.
“I wanted a comforting space that was calming and grounding,” says Rhyanan. “I opened and our philosophy carries through to our great coffee and unusual brews. People come here after the gym, before or after the dog park, or simply to work. It’s a great place to work, as it has a calm, relaxing atmosphere that is conducive to a creative mind.”
All ingredients are local, with certified, free range eggs where possible. “We will be using our own eggs from own home grown chooks eventually,” smiles Rhyanan.
Middle Ground serves Bagels from local Bae Gal, in Bundanoon, whose creations are literally a tasty work of art. They’d put even the finest New York bagel to shame. There are several varieties on the menu, of bagel, and of filling!
Choose from seeded, salted and blueberry, each available in gluten free options, too. My fave filling is the Smoked Salmon with cream cheese, capers, red onion and dill, which is created with care and dished up with a lot of style. It also tastes so amazing and satisfies all my salt cravings for the day.
My other got-to is a Za’Atar with sliced tomato, Greek Yoghurt and soft boiled egg, served with local sourdough made by Eilish from The What If Society. There are several more creations as well as sweet offerings, too, so you will never go hungry, and plenty in store to pick up and purchase to enjoy at home.
Most interesting on the menu though, is ‘Oomie’ a Vegemite substitute that is suitable for vegans, lower in salt and every bit as yummy (if not yummier), than the real thing. You can also enjoy a beautifully prepared nourish bowl and and assortment of pickles and sauerkraut that taste delicious and treat you well.
Finally, Don’t forget the Breakfast Bowl. You have to taste it understand it. Nothing short of amazing.
LET THEM EAT CAKE
The cakes, sweets and slices on offer at Middle Ground are quite simply irresistible, and I’m saying that as someone who doesn’t really even like cake. Again, they are created by Eilish from The What If Society and made with love and nutrition in mind. Don’t miss the spiced pear and chai cake with caramelised whey and caramelised sunflower seeds, if it happens to be on the counter then you’re there! The What If Society also offers a selection of sauces, honey, cereals and jams to take home.
The Ideal Sip
As for beverages, I seriously believe they have the best offerings in the Southern Highlands (sorry to all my other fave cafes). Middle ground’s warm and cold brews are not only unique, but tasty, delicious and actually good for you. My go-to is the Chai Tea, which has the perfect blend of tea with spices that catch in your throat and make you think of snowy Christmases. The magic mushy is a supermix of mushrooms, chai spices, maca powder and cinnamon and cacao with Bonsoy non GMO milk (but you can also choose oat or almond).
I’m not much of a coffee connoisseur, or drinker for that matter, but I absolutely loved the iced filtered coffee with a splash of Soy and a drip of honey. I reckon I have it at least thrice weekly.
As for the hot chocolate, it rivals the lot of ’em, and again is so special I have run out of adjectives to describe it.
Choose from dark slated, or ice, but hey, best of luck on that choice. They are all simply incredible! Middle Ground uses Mok Choc artisan chocolate from Melbourne and when served up with tiny marshmallows, it’s the best cool weather treat ever!
DON’T FORGET YOUR POOCH!
The spacious front courtyard area at Middle ground offers plenty of comfy seating where you can enjoy the full menu, with your best furry friend. Word on the street is there will soon be some lovely planters, creating a private divide between the dining area and the road.
As the lovely business grows and the menu expands, Rhyanan plans to include more baked goods and things like sausage rolls, as well as a Sunday Market, where you can pick up local delicacies and produce.
Shop 7, 255 Bong Bong St
Bowral, NSW 2576
(corner of Station St + Merrigang St, next to the back of the Royal Hotel)