It was just too intriguing to pass by. We were wandering around downtown Ganges on Salt Spring Island recently when we happened upon the most interesting tiny building – obviously of vintage provenance and offering food and drink under the moniker of Café Talia. Who could resist?
Café Talia has wended its way through a number of iterations since its construction way back in the 1930s. The tiny, two bay-window structure began life as a private residence, later becoming Salt Spring’s first telephone exchange and the first forest ranger station. Over the years it also served as a bike shop before morphing, once again, into the exceptionally charming café that it has become.
The cafe is obviously a favourite local hangout, where residents meet to enjoy the European ambiance indoors (seats 12) or, on fine days, the small outdoor patio. Although the place has served as a café since some renovations in 2007, it was taken over early in 2015 by Aletha Humphreys, an escapee from mainland madness. Aletha and her friendly staff have created a warm and welcoming atmosphere that is complimented by good service and tasty, simple food.
Although the baked goods in the pastry case were very tempting we opted for a light lunch. The daily menu is posted on a chalkboard and, while not extensive, offers up enough variety that even those who are gluten-free or vegetarian will have some options. The emphasis is on local and fresh, right from the coffee to the pastries. While much of the sweet-tooth stuff is produced off-site by master bakers, the lunch offerings are created in-house.
My husband ordered a ham and provolone sandwich, which arrived on an exquisite crusty ciabatta bun, crammed with the main ingredients. I opted for the generously-sized frittata of the day, bursting with the flavours of artichoke, sun dried tomato and feta. Both meals were more than enough to satisfy our tastebuds and our grumbling tummies.
While the exterior of Café Talia may look ‘run down’ to some, that vintage look is intentional, adding a certain appeal to passersby. There is a new roof under the rusted metal, and other upgrades have made the place a wonderful spot for a casual meal or a meet-up with friends. It is its own kind of ‘fancy’ in a very special and distinctive way.
A note to those interested in historical aspects of Salt Spring – there is an information board outside the café (ask the staff for location) that will tell you more about the background of the Café Talia building and the old jam factory behind it, constructed in the 1920s. Nice to see the historical buildings on the island being preserved and used!
Further information on Café Talia can be found at the website:
Price rating: $
Café Talia is located at 122 Hereford Avenue, Salt Spring Island.
GPS co-ordinates are:
Lat. 48.853615 Long. -123.502074
N 48 51.217 W 123 30.124