Leichhardt Pool, or Leichhardt Park Aquatic Centre (LPAC) as it is officially known, is one of my favourite places in Sydney. Set in a picturesque location overlooking Iron Cove, it's my pool of choice for my almost daily swim. And the added bonus is that it has a great cafe - Blue Aqua Kiosk - run by Philip, who with his brother Robert and sister-in-law Annabella, used to run Ba Babas in Norton Street, Leichhardt.
Three years ago, Ba Babas was a great place to eat, and used to be a bit of an institution on Sydney's little Italy street. My inner west friends and I would have dinner there nearly every Friday night, and it was the venue for quite a few family celebrations.
Ba Babas is not the same anymore but Philip's Blu Aqua Kiosk at Leichhardt Pool is definitely a nice place to relax and enjoy good coffee and cake or something more substantial. The elevated terrace above the complex's 50-metre pool is a lovely spot to enjoy the winter sun, read the paper or just relax and gaze out over the bay.
The other bonus is that there a quite a few gluten-free options. On a recent sunny Sunday after 20 laps of the pool I enjoyed a gluten-free coconut and raspberry cupcake with a skim latte. There was also a gluten-free apricot and date cake and gluten-free muesli for those early morning swimmers, racing off to work or school. Other GF options include an Italian omelette and scrambled eggs.
Another good thing about this beautifully situated cafe is that it's not just for the complex's pool and gym users - anyone can come in - even husband Bruce, who enjoyed an excellent cup of coffee and banana bread after his run to Balmain. With the 'Bay Run' just below the pool, the cafe is an ideal place for all the runners, walkers and bike-riders who frequent this 7km path to stop in for a post-exercise treat.
The cafe is at Mary Street Lilyfield, just behind Leichhardt Oval. It is open from 6am in the morning till 7pm at night.