Cafe Reviews

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

Best Cafes of Sydney 2011

WorkshopRGB_webMake no mistake, Australia is at the peak of espresso coffee on the world stage with a number of barista champions, past and present hailing from our shores and many of our top cafes cresting the ‘third’ and even ‘fourth’ waves in world espresso.

Sydney is no exception to this and boasts a number of truly world-class cafes. Many of our reviewers have travelled, or even lived in Europe and their reviews attest to the increasing dominance of antipodean coffee on the world scene; let no-one doubt – these cafes are at the peak of their game and are of a world class standard.

So it is with pleasure that we bring you Crema Magazine’s Best Cafes of Sydney for 2011…

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Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Shot Cafe

ShotCafe_Mosman_tinyRecently opened located in Sydney Harbour’s headland park in Mosman this café blends a stunning location with good coffee and delicious food. With extensive harbour views and a large al fresco dining area this former Army ‘All Ranks Club’ heritage cottage is proving very popular with families and lovers of the outdoors.

Shot was established by  Tracey Leitch and her partner Peter Rose, whose previous openings include establishing the iconic Balmoral Sandbar and Awaba Café. “Our menu is a mix of delicious home style food with a few irresistible sweet treats thrown in” notes Rose. Shot has set up a ‘Bark Park’ to accommodate dogs whilst their owners enjoy a mid walk refreshment. Tethered amidst the shade of trees they can enjoy some company and often get spoilt with a doggie bone biscuit sold at Shot.

Pre- or post a Shot espresso there is a chance to explore the stunning harbour vantage point: there are magnificent harbour views, a lookout, walking track from Chowder Bay to Balmoral, fortifications, tunnels and heritage buildings. For those who love all things organic, the growers markets are held at Headland Park every Thursday. Peter and Tracey’s vision for Shot was a café that consistently delivered fresh, tasty, home-style food, and on that count it heartily delivers, with a lot more besides.

Shot Cafe
Building 3, Headland Park
Middle Head Rd
Mosman

Tel 02 9969 4400



Sunday, July 18th, 2010

Seven Seeds

Seven Seeds_CarltonAfter hugely successful achievements in the Melbourne cafe scene [most recently Brother Baba Budan and St Ali] Mark Dundon’s latest effort brings new life to the warehouses of inner Carlton. Behind a slightly unprepossessing exterior lies a stylised and slightly cavernous cafe space, with the roastery visible through viewing windows out the back.

The decor is quite striking, with a bare, almost minimalist effect and metal chairs and military stencilled cutlery boxes giving unique utilitarian undertones. There’s nothing utilitarian about the coffee though, which like the simple but delicious food, is of a high standard.

With a selection of single origin and blends to chose from, the Rwandan Musasa had a juicy fruity acidity, a round, low body with a lovely aftertaste, while the flat white [Seven Seeds blend] enjoyed a velvety mouth feel with a full bodied flavour, hints of chocolate and nuts, a soft finish and a dark crema. Mark’s latest venture doesn’t disappoint!

Seven Seeds
114 Berkeley St
Carlton VIC 3053
Tel: (03) 9347 8664



Saturday, July 17th, 2010

Market Lane Coffee

Market Lane Coffee Prahran

Firmly entrenched as a leader in the third wave, and some would say in the vanguard of the ‘fourth wave’ of coffee evolution [where the method of coffee preparation is considered to be as important as the raw materials themselves], Market Lane is a great addition to the burgeoning Melbourne Cafe Scene.

Head barista and co-owner Jason Scheltus heads up an impressive team that includes co-owner Fleur Studd (Melbourne Coffee Merchants), and recent recruit Toshiyuki Ishiwata (Toshi), arguably one of the country’s finest roasters.

Perched on the ‘edge’ of the Prahran Market precinct, they have a focus on alternative preparation techniques such as ceramic pour-over, and have a keen eye for sourcing and roasting enticing beans. Recent examples on the menu include Carmo Estate from Brazil, with notes of blackcurrant and cocoa and Kenyan Mbee – sweet and complex, with notes of passionfruit, vanilla and rose hip tea. They also do 10.00am cuppings for enthusiasts. Highly recommended

Shop 13 Prahran Market
163 Commercial Road
South Yarra VIC 3141

Tel:  03 9804 7434



Monday, February 15th, 2010

Proud Mary

ProudMary_lowres.It seems that no expense has been spared when creating this elaborate space, from the standout powder blue coloured six group Synesso coffee machine – which is the only six group machine of its kind in Australia – to the quirky hand-crafted coffee handle door handles on the front door. Attention to detail is apparent everywhere and no where more so that in my coffee cup – which is where you would want it to be!

That’s the thought that was on my mind as I ploughed through my piccolo ($3.5) at Proud Mary recently. The barista behind the machine on the day was in fine form as the first coffee, made from the house espresso blend, exhibited notes of caramel and pistachio on a rich and creamy palate. And my second coffee – made from a Single Origin Costa Rican – featured aromas of almond, hot buttered popcorn and coconut cream, on a savoury palate with traces of tobacco and spice predominating.

Interesting menu touches such as a Seared tuna with grilled asparagus on a warm potato salad with a caper dressing ($17.5) make for appealing luncheon items, whilst items such as Crushed avocado on toast, served with a roast tomato salsa, rocket and lemon ($12.50) – available on the breakfast menu – also offer excellent value!

The space itself is wide and spacious, and filled with natural light due to its corner location, , and a swag of Mazzers on the counter, combined with the seemingly obligatory Clover and Syphon, Proud Mary’s coffee credentials are firmly stamped on the Melbourne scene. Was there ever any doubt?

Proud Mary

172 Oxford St

Collingwood VIC 3066

Tel: (03) 9417 5930



Monday, February 15th, 2010

Kokoh

Kokoh_lowresThe selection of cafes on Sydney’s Northern Beaches can be ‘mixed’ at best. However, there’s a little gem in leafy Wahroonga which really hits the spot.

Kokoh is tucked rather unpretentiously in on Redleaf Ave, but it’s proof that you can find good food and coffee on the Northern Beaches, if you look hard enough!

The menu itself seems, at first glance pretty modest, with a selection of teas, coffee [by Morgan's Handcrafted] and gourmet sandwiches.

Breakfast includes regulars such as Muesli, Fruit Toast, and Toast with numerous spreads, and for lunch, sandwiches include Ham [$13.50], Turkey [$13.50], Salmon [$13.50] and Chicken Schnitzel [$14.50]. However it’s the way things are done, with special menu touches and a lot of care taken over preparation, that make an impression. The only downside is the pricing – at $14 for Bacon and Eggs, with extras like a sausage at $5 or salmon $6.50, some would say prices are a little on the high side, although the ingredients are of top quality.

The toast includes four varieties of La Tartine certified organic sourdough: spelt, wholemeal, white or sesame, and is accompanied by Hank’s strawberry  or triple berry jam, four fruits marmalade, or honey and ricotta… not a huge selection, but beautifully done.  And for lunch, the sandwiches [on the same four La Tartine breads] are simple but beautifully made.

Indeed Kokoh is a lovely little haven situated as it is, just off the busy Pacific Highway; a haven that’s definitely worth searching out!

Kokoh

11 Redleaf Ave
Wahroonga NSW 2076
Tel: (02) 9489 1470



Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

Cafe 120

Cafe_120_smallYou could be forgiven for not immediately noticing Café 120 on your trek to coffee nirvana [or someplace else] as it’s tucked away in a remote and somewhat obscure location – located as it is at the end of the 96 tram line, just around the corner from Ceres eco-village.

But to bypass the place altogether would be to do so at your peril, as the food good and the coffee is too.  Serving Coffee Supreme, I enjoyed a well-made half latte, which was smooth, creamy delicately textured, with caramel and roast almond aromas, which followed through on a butterscotch-infused palate!

The space itself is small and compact but well-built with high ceilings, distressed blonde timber flooring, and whitewashed walls featuring eclectic artwork, such as a vintage collection of skateboards and related paraphernalia dating back, I would guess, to at least the 1950’s.

There’s also a good selection of panini with fillings such as smoked chicken with rocket, shaved parmesan, and Japanese mayo, along with plenty of vegetarian options from $8.00.

It’s all pretty stripped back at 120 with an unfussy menu and friendly service – which puts the emphasis back on the coffee – but with prices starting from $3 for a cup of Joe, this café is well positioned to meet the needs of those who have come to the end of the line. [PS]

Café 120
120 Nicholson St
Brunswick East, 3057
(03) 9387 0010



Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

Foxy Brown

FoxyBrown-smallFoxy Brown is one of those rarest of things: a cosy corner cafe in a former house that actually still feels like someone’s living room. Original 70′s furniture pieces provide a cosy backdrop in this long and narrow space, as does mood lighting and front and rear courtyards – which are just the thing for the kids to muck around in!

In fact the space itself has a long history servicing the local community, dating back at least until the 1920′s when it traded as a general store and in its most recent successful incarnation, as an eclectic community-based cafe run by a brilliant if somewhat flawed musician, prior to being taken over by Patrick Sloane, aka Askthecoffeeguy, of the Crema Forum.

Patrick spent six months fine tuning the coffee blend with master roaster Joshua Bailey, who, interestingly flies somewhat beneath the radar in Melbourne – roasting as he does from his lounge room on Errol Street in North Melbourne – and the blend is a combination of high altitude shade grown ingredients which are also available individually as ‘Foxy Bean of the Day’ components. Patrick pulled over 2000 coffees through his coffee machine prior to be opening, to be certain that it was working properly and to thoroughly assess the coffee that he is using – such are his coffee credentials.

In fact one of the first things that you notice about the place is the massive coffee blackboard which dwarfs the kitchen’s daily specials board – which says something about the emphasis on coffee here, as does the two page coffee menu which sits on top of the all day breakfast menu.

Foxy prides itself on being mostly organic and FairTrade wherever possible and uses a unique DEMTER certified biodynamic un-homoginised milk – which is in such short supply that Patrick had to go on a two month waiting list and was interviewed vigorously for several hours before passing muster, and the cafe is still one of only a select few able to stock this product.  The milk itself is not cheap but is an integral part of the coffee equation and the coffee itself needs to be experienced to do it justice!

Foxy Brown Espresso Bar & Cafe
31 South Crescent
Northcote VIC 3070



Sunday, October 4th, 2009

Dov at Delectica

DOV (6)_tinyIn the slightly seedy area of backpackers’ hostels and cafes mixed with comfortable terraces, is one cafe that has a particularly interesting heritage. Dov at Delectica has a strange name  and a slightly unusual history to boot. Originally on the premises of what is now Darlinghurst’s Forbes & Burton, opposite the National Art School, DOV was a Sydney inner-city institution. The glitterati used to mix with artists and A-listers, residents and druggies in a gloriously eclectic mix. However [as the story goes] the owner of Forbes & Burton wanted the premises for himself and didn’t renew the lease, causing the DOV owners to look for new premises. Instead of a ‘heritage’ style artistic haven, they settled on the slightly seedy premises of an existing cafe called Delectica.

Dov at Delectica serves a range of hearty meals, such as Penne with ham, baby spinach, pine nuts, garlic and white wine [$15.50] and Open steak sandwich, cos lettuce, avocado, tomato, onion, aloili and fries [$16.00] and, perhaps given their backpacker clientele, a $10 Special of Soup and cheese sandwich [Monday to Friday]. They also serve a small range of desserts [baked on the premises] – I had the Pear and almond frangipane tart and it was delicious. Coffee was well-made –  full-bodied but smooth.

With its wide-open windows, it’s a pleasant place to hang out, especially in summer. However, while its clientele may still be eclectic, it was nothing on the mix of people that used to gravitate to the old DOV!

2/130 Victoria St
Potts Point
NSW 2000



Friday, September 18th, 2009

Collective Espresso

DSC01438I can’t help but think that the Camberwell establishment are being shaken to their core by the Collective consciousness of ‘third wave’ barista values in what is perhaps best described as a ‘second wave’ coffee heartland. Turning traditional notions of what constitutes good coffee on their head, the Collective applies industry best standards to produce the kind of coffee that is worth crossing town for.

The store has only been open for six weeks but you wouldn’t know it based on the relaxed, friendly and professional service that’s on offer here. In fact, the service here is ‘restaurant quality’ in a cafe environment, which is remarkable really considering that at present there is only a limited menu of savoury items – such as panini – on offer.

The guys from Collective tell me that they are in the process of putting a kitchen in and bringing in a chef to spruce up what they have on offer, which is probably a good thing as on the day I visited the pastries in the ambient display cabinet looked and tasted a little on the dry side; but then again who could’ve predicted a 27C day at the tail end of winter?

More importantly, the coffee at Collective Espresso is excellent. They use a blend of Five Senses coffee for milk-based drinks and a changing selection of Single Origin coffees for espressos. When you combine this with the proven power of the famed Synesso coffee machine/Robur grinder line-up – then what you are in for is some very fine coffee indeed.

Collective Espresso’s location is a little tucked away [in a side street] but it’s close to public transport and just down the road from a park and playground, which is just the thing for the kids to run off their excess energy after an almond croissant!

I for one know where I will be heading the next time I go to Camberwell market! [PS]

Shop 1, 3 Cookson St
Camberwell VIC 3124
(03) 9882 8995