Sydney cafes & restaurants

Friday, March 25th, 2011

Room 10

Room10_webWith the increasing tendency of hip new cafes to use ‘boutique’ coffee brands to make their coffee, it’s probably no surprise that Room 10 uses Mecca [see Sydney’s Best Cafes 2011]. It’s a compact space with no separate kitchen – the kitchen is actually a dedicated area of bench space on the right [as you walk in]of the café. The space is dominated by two things – one a bicycle curiously mounted on the wall at the rear and secondly a shiny La Marzocco espresso machine at the front. It’s not always guaranteed, but it’s usually a sign that they’re serious about their coffee and in this case, the coffee didn’t disappoint, although there was some variability, depending on who was behind the machine. They offer a limited food menu and in spite of the size of the kitchen [or lack of it!] the food was actually pretty good, and if you can get a seat [especially in Summer] the little outdoor tables are a nice option. Room 10 brings a new dimension to otherwise ‘good-coffee-denuded’ Kings Cross.

10 Llankelly Place
Potts Point NSW 2011



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…

(more…)



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



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



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



Monday, September 14th, 2009

Cafe E61

E61_low

Another, slightly lower-profile option in Crows Nest, is Cafe E61, up Willoughby Road and just around the corner from Wrapido.

The Faema E61 was the name of a famous and ground-breaking commercial espresso machine, launched [not co-incidentally] in 1961. Therefore, we would expect a large part of its focus to be its coffee and using Toby’s Estate, on the coffee front,  Cafe E61 did not disappoint.

However, it’s also an interesting Crows Nest option on the food front. Because it’s small and fairly narrow, it wouldn’t be a suitable option for work lunches or large groups, however although simple, the food was good and extremely good value.

Menu items consisted mainly of sandwiches, such as Panfried pancetta, fetta, tomato and rocket [$7]; Rare roast beef, horseradish, beetroot, tomato, swiss cheese and lettuce [$7.70]; Brown rice & lentil pattie, avocado, plum sauce and lettuce [$6.20], and the Thai tuna pattie, with avocado, sweet chilli, tomato and lettuce [$7.20]. E61 also serves a range of breakfast items – I tried the Pesto Scrambled Eggs, which were delicious. They also have wraps, and a selection of cakes and slices, which were all home-made and were excellent.

A low-key alternative to some of the flashier cafes down Willoughby Road, E61 comes highly recommended, especially for the coffee!

E61
20 Burlington Street
Crows Nest NSW 2065
Phone: (02) 9966 9906



Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

Wrapido

Wrapped_tiny(3)For a suburb with a plethora of great restaurants, it can be surprisingly hard to find a good coffee in Crows Nest. The cafes that are there tend to serve the surrounding business community from Crows Nest up to St Leonards, and are mainly lunch-based operations.

One option that looks the part is Wrapido, and in fact the coffee [depending on who is the barista at the time] isn’t bad at all.

They have a great selection of food, including delicious freshly-baked muffins, along with the usual cakes and brownies. However, what is a little surprising about Wrapido, given the name, is their wraps!

The options seem fantastic at first glance: Taj – chargrilled tandoori chicken, mango chutney, cucumber and yoghurt raita on aromatic rice, all wrapped in a tomato tortilla; Thai Spice – marinated spicy prime beef served rare with grilled eggplant and a fresh herb, cucumber and green leaf salad in a soy chilli & kaffir lime leaf dressing, wrapped in a red salsa tortilla, and Veggie Roast – char grilled mediterranean vegetables in a balsalmic vinaigrette topped with humus and leafy greens on a bed of couscous, wrapped in a pesto tortilla…

At $8.80 that’s good value and the selection seems mouth-watering, almost too good to be true. And this is the problem – at least in our [several] experiences, it was too good to be true. The wraps were overstuffed with rice and not enough of the fillings advertised. Not only that, but several that we tried were soggy.

On the plus side, the actual cafe space is extremely convivial, combining modernity with a comfortable buzz and the selection of coffees is excellent, creating a great ambience – definitely a place to hang out; if only they could do something about those wraps!

55 Willougby Rd
Crows Nest NSW 2065
(02) 9438 4946



Saturday, June 13th, 2009

Baffi and Mo

bafimo_08_smallIn contrast, there was nothing prissy or ‘precious’ about Baffi & Mo in Redfern St [see previous review]. Baffi & Mo is a great new spot, Right in the heart of Redfern. It’s an interesting blend between ‘comfy’ and stylish, but it pulls it off brilliantly. The room is dominated by one large communal table along with several tables and a leather sofa with a view of all the comings and goings on Redfern Street.  It features a bright and clean open kitchen, which while we were there was a picture of bustling efficiency.

While the breakfast options are not huge, they are certainly generous. They offer an excellent muesli with fruit & yoghurt, scambled eggs with a range of extras, and a variety of other breakfast and all-day options, including wraps and sandwiches. We tried the Scrambled Eggs with Chorizo,  which was delicious. The coffee was excellent – perhaps not surprising since Lou [one of the cafe co-owners used to be a barista trainer for Lavazza!

All-in-all, an excellent cafe experience, one where you don’t have to sacrifice on ambience and quality, even though it’s not located in what is seen as a traditional ‘cafe belt’. And, from what we could tell, certainly one that is appreciated by the locals. Highly recommended.
baffi_tiny



Thursday, June 4th, 2009

Side Plate

planted-4_tinyThis tiny spot on newly gentrified Bourke Street is an offshoot of a catering outfit called ‘The Plated Group’. It promised great things, having been launched with appropriate fanfare to the foodie cognoscenti in inner-city Sydney a couple of months ago, and has developed quite a following amongst locals since then.

Given its ‘foodie’ credentials we went there expecting great things, and were surprised to find that the food options were quite limited. The menu was fairly brief, offering the basics but not much more. Items included Homemade Muesli [$9.50], Toasted Banana Bread [$4.50], Fruit Toast and Ricotta [$6.50], Scrambled Eggs [$8.50] and a range of toasted sandwiches.

The scrambled eggs were nicely cooked, but the surprise was that pretty much everything you order apart from the eggs themselves are counted as an ‘extra’. I had mushrooms and smoked salmon with toast, so my dish quickly went from $8.50 to $14. The meal itself was OK, but nothing special – certainly adequate, but nothing more.

Again promising great things was the shiny Syncra Cynesso three group espresso machine on the stainless steel bench – an attraction for coffee purists ‘in the know’. However once again Side Plate disappointed, my flat white having a slightly ‘burnt’ character. The Cynesso is a beautiful machine, allowing custom espresso settings, but definitely needs to be perfectly tuned to turn out the perfect shot!

Service was pleasant enough – although to this reviewer’s mind, it just seemed a little fussy – perhaps the result of the close quarter contact, due to Side Plate’s rather intimate size. One slightly annoying detail – they don’t have a toilet for customers – in this day-and-age, you would not be wrong for considering that pretty much a ‘given’ for any cafe.

Overall the deal at Side Plate seemed to be one which over-promises and under-delivers; in these recessionary times, it’s also a little pricey for what you get. [AF]

664 Bourke St

Redfern East, NSW 2016



Thursday, May 21st, 2009

Velluto Nero

Velluto Nero interior

In spite of the fact that Velluto Nero struck gold with the Sydney Morning Herald Good Living crowd [April 08], we found it surprisingly empty when our reviewers first visited late last year.

First, the coffee. Our flat white came with a nice rosetta, but lacked body or any special character; hopefully the espresso would be better. It wasn’t, but luckily when we review a cafe we take it so seriously we go several times, and our reviewer’s piccolo latte on the third visit was quite good – maybe it was a different barista! However, from a coffee perspective it’s got nothing on Mecca, just around the corner.

Velluto Nero serve a range of sandwiches and other simple lunch items, but the menu was of surprisingly lacklustre quality, considering they pose as a potential lunch option for busy city workers. In fact, the Roasted Vegetable Focaccia I had was probably the worst ever – it was so tasteless, it could have won a blandness award in a Monty Python skit.

They have a roaster in the front, as if to emphasise their roasting credentials and proudly showcase their ‘coffee awards’. In fact, they’re great on the self-promotion, but there has to be a reason this place is not buzzing. The 1978 Brunello Rondi film of the same name got a 4.6 out of 10 in a film buff site we visited and in this reviewer’s mind, we would find it hard to rate the cafe much higher.

Velluto Nero
259 Clarence St, City