Set up & site: Housed in a semi-converted bungalow next to Westmere Primary (yes, it does get busy at drop-off and pick-up time), Garnet Station has none of the sleek lines of neighbourhood competitor Seabreeze down the road, instead it has a retro/mismatched cutlery/ "have I just walked into someone's living room?" vibe. Once you make your way past the entry to the cafe, with its appetising counter food (everything from teeny cupcakes to house-made pies and salads), the cafe gradually unfolds with a series of small rooms with old-school tables and chairs. The main room has a comfy window seat and sofa and a box of kids' toys (though co-owner Verity George, will remind your children, very politely but directly, to pack them away after playing if they don't do it off their own bat — and good on her).
On a cold Sunday morning, it was well-heated.
Sustenance & swill: I've eaten here dozens of times, but almost always at night, when they do excellent pizzas (go for the Seaside with garlic prawns, parmesan, parsley pesto and capers). Brunch is a vegetarian-friendly but still quite old-school affair: we had a big breakfast ($18 for two eggs with toast, mushrooms, tomatoes, hash browns, organic bacon, halloumi and a pork and fennel sausage), a vege delight ($19.50 for two eggs with toast, mushrooms, baked tomatoes and spinach, gluten free homemade hash browns, halloumi and borlotti baked beans) and pancakes ($16.50 with maple syrup, caramelised banana and bacon), washed down with a coffee and complimentary sparkling water. All three dishes were tasty – and huge – though the winner was the pancakes, fluffy but still moist, and the bacon, whose salty, crispy badness was off the charts. The organic flat white ($4.50) was fine but had a slight metallic aftertaste.
Service & other stuff: Our young waiter was lovely: polite, attentive and not only asked my daughter if she would like cream with her pancakes but, mildly outraged when it didn't appear with the order, hustled the kitchen to bring some out. The cafe was almost full when we ordered and we waited just long enough to wonder when our meals would arrive, when there they were. If you come at night, you may well be able to catch a show or something similar, in its adjacent and well-named Tiny Theatre. Verity and her partner Lisa Prager (don't bring your bike, kidding!), regularly host and sometimes perform in a variety of shows, cooking classes and quiz nights as well as screening docos from time to time. As far as I can tell, it's the only place in Westmere doing anything along those lines.