A few years ago a Melbourne friend took me to those bars that are all comfy couches, long-neck beers and retro knickknacks that work together but don't try too hard. The kind of place that makes you feel at home, or the home you wish you had. The Kick Inside is just like that. We almost miss it as we charge up Erskineville Road to eat lunch at a better-known cafe, but it catches my friend's eye and we think, why not? But is it good? A local overhears and says yes - it's really lovely. So in we go.
Spacewise, on a busy weekend it could be a pram-wielder's nightmare but it's midweek and we're fine at the oval table we choose. The menu is brief and mostly breakfast-related but there are sandwiches, a pizza and two salads on offer - we go for both, plus the kitchen's recommendation of a tuna sandwich. I've done my coffee drinking for the day but the others enjoy their Golden Cobra brews.
The salads arrive on mismatched plates and sharing with my dairy-fearing friend means I get all the feta in the pear and walnut salad, which is filled out with rocket and baby spinach coated in a sharp lemon dressing. The other has free-range chicken, Paesanella bocconcini (again, all mine), avocado, tomatoes and more greens, this time with a hint of balsamic in the dressing. It's refreshing to see a salad assembled before your eyes and with good ingredients - well, the tomatoes could be riper but I can't blame the Kick kitchen for that.
We take up the offer of soy and linseed on the side and it's freshly baked, restaurant-quality sourdough, too. Pea Pa's nicoise-style sandwich, meanwhile, is declared a hit, thanks to the happy marriage of bread and potato. Even the hard-boiled egg, of which he's a fellow hater, is entirely welcome.
Of course, Baby Pea is a long way from demanding his own babycinos and even a kid-friendly cafe wouldn't supply much to hold his interest yet, so it's a nice surprise to find him fascinated by the thick black lines of the We Buy Your Kids wall mural.
Another drawcard, which I discover only after I do my usual in-seat shuffle, is that the bathroom out the back has a lounge room attached with a sofa that could be a comfortable, private-ish spot for feeding the baby. I'll have to come back and find out.
The Kick Inside Espresso Lounge
43 Erskineville Rd, Erskineville NSW 2204
p. 02 9517 2255