At Last department

January 2011

Staying in Glebe, it was back in 2007 that the newly and expensively ($1.32 million) renovated 1890s sandstone house Bellevue was opened with a flourish by Lord Mayor Clover Moore. Re-furbished to work as a café or restaurant, the winning tender to lease was made by Manuel Spinola who had (and still has) the Tea Room Gunners’ Baracks at Mosman. As reported in this column in
September 2008, his first plan was rejected, then he went back to the drawing board and $20,000 later, he was again rejected because, the council said, they’d had an independent assessor look at it and declare it unsuitable for use as a restaurant. Bizarre. And totally untrue – the problem was residents not wanting their scarce parking taken away by outsiders.

So council goes into hibernation, and then, quietly with no fanfare, after a DA approval on May 10th, it opens five days before Christmas as the Blackwattle Café (55 Leichhardt Street,  no phone yet) with artist Michael Schiavello managing and Tiong Chang (ex Claude’s Berowra Waters) in the kitchen. And what a delight for residents to be able to stroll along the foreshore  - with dog or dogs, plenty of fresh water for them – and take a coffee or a gin and tonic or a glass of wine with a plate of pate or dips and olives sitting outside under the bullnose veranda overlooking Blackwattle Bay. It’s also open for breakfast from 7am, then lunch but closes at 8pm in the summer – the residents won that battle.

Wow. That’s two good news stories. Let us hope the year of the rabbit has many more  in store.

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