Posts Tagged ‘Sydney restaurants’

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011



In a great little space in one of the buzziest and trendiest parts of Surry hills, Anakin from Toby’s Estate has created a real gem. A natural café spot, Anakin has taken this space over from Coffee, Tea or me, and created a café that is a true coffee lover’s hangout. And what a hang-out it is – with great food and tables on to the street, it’s the perfect place to watch the passing bustle of humanity on cosmopolitan Crown street.

But it’s the coffee that the aficionados come for – the house blend combining a wet and a dry processed Ethiopian, a Java and a Brazil – sweet on the tip of the tongue, with an earthy middle palate and a hint of saltiness on the back palate. Delicious.

536 Crown Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010

T: (02) 9332 3191

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…


Monday, February 15th, 2010


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!


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

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009


Bunker_darlinghurst2It’s not easy to make an impression on Darlinghurst’s ‘cafe’d-out’ Victoria Avenue. True, Bunker’s actually not quite on Victoria Ave, squeezed in as it is by the hairdresser around the corner on Liverpool Street. It’s easy to see how it got it’s name; as you round the corner it’s easy to miss, but once you’re inside, the sandstone block walls do indeed give the impression of being inside a wartime bunker.

Bunker’s menu suffers from a hint of that slightly pretentious ‘down-home’ bonhommie [Poached chook/steak sanga] that screams ‘I’m so inner-city Sydney’. On the other hand, given that it was a friend in the media who informed me I absolutely had to check this place out, I guess I can’t complain. And in fact, the food range is interesting and eclectic; typical items include Omelette of the Day served on Sonoma sourdough [$13], Scrambled or Poached eggs on sourdough [$8.50] with a range of extras: bacon, field mushrooms ['mushies'], chorizo, smoked salmon and homemade baked beans, and a range of ‘Sangas’ including the aforementioned Poached chook, coriander & fetta on sourdough [$9.00] and the Kurobuta ham with cheddar & dijon on wholewheat miche roll [$8.50], which was excellent.

They do it well, with just the right mix of friendliness and panache, and even the coffee is pretty good. In fact, we’ve heard people say it’s the best in Darlinghurst [although given the quality of the competition, that wouldn't be so hard].

Bunker_darlinghurst1So all in all, we’d have to give Bunker a big tick. The only other thing is, so have a lot of others in the know and it’s a pretty small space, so if you’re going to visit, make sure you don’t come at weekend peak times, or you’ll be in for a wait!

399 Liverpool Street
Darlinghurst NSW 2010
Phone (0404) 407 349

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Deus ex Machina

DeusI (15)_tiny

Some people might consider Deus ex Machina – or ‘god from a machine’ [Latin deus, god + Latin ex, from + Latin māchinā] an enigma – a motorbike shop turned cafe. If you’ve got a bit of extra space [a lot, actually] why not put up some funky posters [big, striking artwork, actually] add some communal tables, a kitchen and an espresso machine, leave a racing motorbike in the middle, and call it a cafe? Which is precisely what the owners of Deus did and somehow it works!

Although right on the abominable Parramatta Road at the corner of Missenden Rd, they have managed to completely blanket out the sound of the road and replace it with the busy bustle of barista, waiters and expectant diners.

The menu is eclectic, adventurous and varied. Two items stood out for me – the Smoked trout and kipfler potato salad, with a poached egg and hollandaise [$15], and the Canellini and french beans, tuna, olive, fennel, tomato and caper salad [$15], and I tried them both [on consecutive days].

The bean salad was a trifle disappointing – perhaps perfect for a health food fanatic – ie it tasted pretty much like beans and not much else. The Smoked trout on the other hand, was delicious – the trout delicately smoked, fresh and moist perfectly balanced by the accompanying egg and salad.  To top it off, the chips [ordered separately] were delicious – perfectly fried in fresh oil. You can tell a lot about a restaurant by the quality of their chips [which are so easy to get wrong] and judging by this simple criteria, Deus beats many restaurants serving meals at twice the price!

Coffee [by di Lorenzo] was good – well-rounded and smooth, although talking of price, I can’t say it was deserving of the $3.50 price tag. However, as a complete cafe experience in an iconic location, Deus is one not to be missed!  AF [Sept 09].

DeusI (20)_tiny
98-104 Parramatta Road
NSW 2050

tel: 02 8594 2800

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

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009


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.

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