Picture the perfect country style café, the type that you’d expect to see on the front cover of a magazine. Flawlessly presented and meticulously detailed. That café is Highlands Merchant in the southern highlands suburb of Moss Vale. This beautiful café is a result of the hard work of Lisa Wisken and her team, who in a little over a year have developed a following in the local area and beyond.
“I think that Bowral has had its day, the rent prices are getting ridiculous, and Moss Vale is on the up.” Lisa Wisken explains to Grub.
“I get people come from Canberra, and even from Northern beaches.” She continues.
The Southern Highlands has long had a reputation as a country escape for Sydney’s upper class. This is especially the case for Moss Vale’s neighbour Bowral, and it’s large sprawling estates. However despite Bowral’s reputation, Lisa still felt the local area’s needed something fresh.
“Highlands [Merchant], is really just somewhere that I wanted to have for me and my friends. There were people like me that were looking for something like this.” She continues
With the idea that it was just going to be a beautiful space for her and her like-minded friends, Highlands Merchant was formed. The café is beautifully furnished and fit out, with light timber floors and baby blue exteriors. Every detail has been scrutinised, from the furniture to the plates and the wares that they sell. The only thing more beautiful than the decoration are the plates served from the kitchen, rivalling the most instagrammable dishes of Sydney’s elite inner west café’s.
Where Highlands Merchant puts a lot of inner city café’s to shame is on their approach to fresh farm produce and food wastage. Being a regional café has its perks it allows Highlands Merchant to talk the talk and walk the walk on a seasonally fresh, minimal waste kitchen. Lisa explains the close relationship and readily availability of in season produce being essential to her café’s success.
“Because we are so close to the farms, we can order every day, every second day. All of my producers are now my good friends.”
Of course the benefit of being able to order produce so readily is that the menu is always rotating and they are able to order less, in effect wasting less. This shines through in the quality and taste of the dishes.
“That’s a big part of what we do here, we really try to innovate and use what we have for that day, and if we sell out, that’s it. We don’t want to have too much.” Lisa tells.
If you are tired of the trite, humdrum, tokenistic ways of Sydney’s café culture, maybe hop in the car and take a day trip out to Moss Vale. You can stop in to Highlands Merchant for a great brunch and some fresh air. You won’t be sorry.
405 Argyle Street, Moss Vale
02 4869 5746