ALLAN REID: Café cozy spot for bike break

The Fairfield Branch Café may just hit the right note for that quick break

Allan Reid

Monday Magazine food columnist

You’re not likely to find the Fairfield Branch Café while sitting behind the wheel of a car. It’s really not much of a destination.

Much better to stumble onto it while sitting astride two wheels, for you need that street-level perspective, that spatial awareness of everything within two metres to find this spot. This tiny coffee shop cowers behind the ramshackle Gonzales Pharmacy at Fairfield Road and Irving Street, squeezed into the distant corner between the pharmacy and its old wooden garage as if frightened of the fuming behemoths hurtling oblivious just metres away. Out of sight: out of mind. It can work both ways.

The Branch is best approached slowly, clicking over the rough asphalt in your cycling shoes, slipping through the simple gate to a surprisingly spacious patio covered by canvas sails stretched across a topless pergola. Patrons’ bicycles hang on heavy hooks along the garage while their masters relax in diffused sunlight, sipping their favourite coffee beverages and maybe noshing on a sweet treat or enjoying a good book or conversation at long wooden tables and benches.

Three small tables inside line a take-it-and-leave-it library full of good reading. A row of stools cluster around the only window, which looks back out over the patio, where all the action happens. Here too, just inside the door, is the counter with its small display showcasing large croissants (plain and almond), lemon loaf, snickerdoodles, fruit danishes and other baked goodies.

There can’t be more than a hundred square feet in here, bathroom included, but the white paint and south exposure keep it bright on a nice day and erase any sense of claustrophobia.

There is not much on the menu beyond the usual assortment of coffee creations. Just two options for toast, one with avocado and the other with smoked salmon.

I ordered the Avocado Dukkah, a thin slice of artisanal white bread with a generous smear of smashed avocado beneath a heavy crust of crushed nuts and seeds with lemon and sesame oil. It was savoury, creamy, nutty, zesty and rich enough to satisfy my peckish appetite. I accompanied my meal with an espresso, served double. This acidic brew will muscle through any milk, foam, or sugar that might fill out your favourite concoction.

I hesitate to recommend the Branch as a lunch stop. Heartier appetites may only blunt their hunger on this snack, and at $7, it’s not exactly cheap. I recommend the Branch as the place to go when, bicycling around Fairfield, you feel the need to take a break from the cars. Get settled among friends and enjoy personable service where the coffee is good, the snacks are hearty and you won’t be chased away for simply enjoying a good book.

Think of it as an oasis of good living hidden in the heart of your hectic day.

Fairfield Branch Café, 1839 Fairfield Rd.

branchcoffeecompany.com

Just Posted

Final HarbourCats home game of 2019 happening tonight at RAP

Tickets still available for Game 1 of the West Coast League finals; first pitch at 6:35 p.m.

WINE NOTES: Going gaga over B.C. Gewürztraminer

Robert Moyes offers up some interesting late-summer vino choices

Take your opportunity to sing at the Royal Theatre

Great Canadian Sing debuts Sept. 8 with inspirational music, talented performers, singalong format

Panels proliferate in Victoria’s Commercial Alley Art Gallery

City artist Fern Long’s themed works will be on display through August 2020

Pink Floyd tribute band to kick off North American tour in Sidney

Victoria band PIGS returning to Mary Winspear Centre 10 years after their first appearance

VIDEO: Prince Charles might have cameo in next James Bond film

‘Bond 25,’ the final film to feature Daniel Craig, coming to theatres in April 2020

Tour de Victoria: Giving you the down low on detours around the region

Thousands of cyclists participating in ninth Tour de Victoria on Saturday

Christopher Auchter’s story headed to the international stage at Toronto International Film Fest

Old Massett totem pole raising revisited in Christopher Auchter’s documentary Now Is The Time

Saanich Peninsula student scores only scholarship for Canadians offered by top U.S. music school

Stelly’s grad Isaiah Carvalhal-Smith and his electric bass off to Boston after successful audition

Yellow Wolf Powwow draws dancers from across Canada

Saanichton event a celebration of Indigenous culture

Victoria-based elephant advocate fighting to end ivory trade

Founder of World Elephant Day hopes to spread awareness, add political pressure

Most Read