Food & Drink: Every day is a g’day at Wattle Tree Place

Sisters bring Australian hospitality to Vancouver

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If you go

 Wattle Tree Place, 306 E. 16th St., Vancouver, 360-389-3116.

Rachel Pinsky

If Wattle Tree Place were a reality show it would be called “The Anna and Sophie Show.” Sisters Anna Phillips and Sophie Wegecsanyi have breathed life into this house on 16th and C streets with their passion, positive energy, and their ability to entertain and uplift every person who walks through the door. They say that they are simply bringing a bit of Australian hospitality (they are from Melbourne) to Vancouver.

I visited the cafe on a Thursday afternoon. The smell of cake baking in the oven filled the room along with the sounds of laughter and lively conversation. A woman in front of me in line was from Lithuania and the sisters entertained everyone waiting with a story of Sophie once getting pulled over for speeding at 2 a.m. in Lithuania and how they talked their way out of a ticket.

It was a bright sunny day. After ordering my food, I headed out back to the garden/play area. Abandoned sippy cups and well-stocked diaper bags were scattered along the picnic tables. A group of mothers were chatting in a circle behind me. One of the moms told me that the group met in swim class but preferred meeting at Wattle Tree Place because it’s “not so safe to have a conversation at the pool, someone might drown.” The kids safely played nearby in the fenced-in sandbox and fairy garden while the moms enjoyed adult conversation.

I settled into a sunny spot and feasted on bruschetta, a personal cheese pizza, and a lamington. The bruschetta was overflowing with fresh diced tomatoes tossed with olive oil, garlic, red onion, fresh basil and salt and served on toasted artisan bread. My personal pizza was made by Anna using her father’s recipe. The sauce, like the bruschetta, is made with tomatoes and herbs fresh from the sisters’ home gardens. The pizza crust was light and flaky, expertly layered with fresh tomato sauce and shredded mozzarella cheese.

Then, I tried the lamington. A lamington is an Australian specialty — Victorian sponge cake with chocolate icing topped with shredded coconut. My lamington was light and airy — the chocolate icing and shredded coconut added a bit of decadence to the sponge cake.

A friend of mine from New Zealand claims that lamingtons are from New Zealand, not Australia. I asked Sophie about this and she replied, “Well, it’s kind of like pavlovas or Mel Gibson. They can have him, we will keep the lamingtons.”

Cinnamon buns are baked on-site every day. On weekends, house-made croissants are available. Breakfast (avocado toast, yogurt parfait, oatmeal) and lunch (a rotating menu of sandwiches, salads, and pizza) can be ordered ahead by phone.

If you prefer a child-free cafe experience, the front porch is adult-only. Child care is available to sip your coffee in peace or treat yourself to on-site services like card reading, massage, and Reiki treatments. Wattle Tree Place also offers grown-up activities like date nights, art shows, wine tastings, guided meditation, and yoga.

For updated hours and events, follow Wattle Tree Place on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wattletreeplace/. Their Facebook page is updated every morning.

Rachel Pinsky can be emailed at couveeats@gmail.com. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @couveeats.