When I moved into my first sharehouse, it was advertised in the paper as ‘Surry Hills’. I knew this wasn’t true, because when I looked at a map, it was right by Redfern Station. However Redfern had a bad rep and Surry Hills was highly coveted, so over the years Surry Hills has been spreading like mould, at least in the real estate pages.

Then there are the suburbs that are completely made up – I’m looking at you, ‘Redfern East’. No, I’m sorry, you just plain don’t exist. And then there’s Darlington, its 2008 postcode made up almost entirely of Sydney Uni (and invented specifically so Sydney Uni would enjoy, shall we say, less rigid planning laws than the surrounding suburbs). To me this is kind of a suburb. It’s the one you say you live in when you’re trying to sell your house but you really live in Chippendale.

‘The Shortlist’ is in the semi-made-up suburb of Darlington on the lemming-walk to Sydney Uni stretch of Abercrombie St. There have been two pretty respectable café options on this drag for ages – the laid back Tripod, serving coffee roaster coffee and the incredibly popular but slightly grumpily staffed Café Ella which is never open Sundays.

But for some reason, no one had a thing to say about this stretch of road until The Shortlist came to town. It’s true that it’s a lot busier on weekends now and the breakfast crowd seem to be getting younger. Many new businesses have opened up and, like all of Redfern, gentrification is full steam ahead.

So while I would love to make a pun about The Shortlist having been on my shortlist for a while now, it sort of hasn’t. True, it’s always crowded and it serves Little Marrionette coffee, something that coffee guides seem to universally agree can only be a good thing. But I’ve always gone by and it’s been packed out the front by people crouching uncomfortably on tiny stools, trying to be seen. It’s a tad too Redfern East for Darlington, if you get my drift.

One thing I didn’t know until I had a look at a place a day is that they have a courtyard out the back. Yes, I’m a dunderheaded fool, I thought that doorway was a mirror. That and its proximity to my house clinched it for me so one weekend we trecked on over. We ordered some coffees and an Earl Grey Tea muffin, which sounds like a load of wank but was absolutely scrummy. The coffee was rich and syrupy, short the way I like it. They serve standard cafe fare and the prices seem reasonable. I can’t say for sure if I’ll be back, but that’s only because I’m so spoiled for choice. Overall I’d say give it a go, especially if you can grab a seat out the back, which is pretty easy to do as the seat out the front seem to be the favoured ones.

The Shortlist
258 Abercrombie Street
Darlington NSW 2008
7:00am-4:00pm Monday-Friday
8:00am-4:00pm Saturday
9:00am-3:00pm Sunday

The Shortlist on Urbanspoon

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13 Responses to Café Review – The Shortlist, Darlington

  1. Howard says:

    Nice find! Can’t say I’ve been to the suburb before but good to know that the coffee is passable.
    Howard recently posted…Marrickville Organic Food and Farmers Markets

  2. Gaby says:

    According to your description, it sounds too standard to bother getting there. And it’s right there next to Redfern station, no way! :)
    Gaby recently posted…Review- The Dip at Goodgod

    • Lau says:

      @ Howard – It was pretty good coffee. How have you never been to Redfern/Darlington?

      @ Gaby – Wow, maybe I was harsher than I thought! I think that while it is something new for the area, it is following a general cafe trend though…

  3. Haha yes all of those new suburbs. My MIL told me her suburb was changed from Harbord to Freshwater which sounds a lot nicer.
    Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella recently posted…Shortgrain- Surry Hills

    • Lau says:

      Yes, that’s marketing. Redfern shopping centre is now called ‘Surry Hills Shopping Village’…

  4. Dolly says:

    love the coffee leaf.. i went to a small barista course at last year fod and wine show.. i now appreciate paying $3.50 for a cup of coffee hehe.
    Dolly recently posted…Creamy Vanilla Celeriac Soup

    • Lau says:

      Haha I am ashamed to say my latte art skills are rubbish. I appreciate a pretty coffee though, that’s for sure.

  5. yasmeen says:

    another place you’ve blogged about that looks right up my alley. heading to sydney for work in a few weeks, hoping to sneak off to a few places you’ve recommended. they look great!
    yasmeen recently posted…spiced pumpkin dip with danish feta coriander

  6. I just walked past here and Tripod earlier in the week en route to the Darlington (haha) Centre for some training! Alas, was unable to stop in for lunch due to having to dash for a train to head back to work afterwards.
    mademoiselle délicieuse recently posted…Brasserie Bread baking class- Artisan Pastry – Cakes &amp Tarts

    • Lau says:

      I like tripod too, it’s solid and the staff are friendly. I would say give them both a try if you ever get a chance.

  7. the darlington prancer says:

    Darlington is a very real suburb whose existence predates the University of Sydney’s expansion to that side of city rd by over a century.

    The uni bought most of it in the 70’s and 80’s, which made an already small suburb (like Chippendale) seem even smaller. But Redfern Heights it is not.

    Much respect to Darlington residents past and present.

    • Lau says:

      @ the darlington prancer – thanks for the history lesson, I didn’t realise Darlington was so old.

      To me, it’s a semi-suburb. However that is just my opinion, I lived in Redfern and it always seemed like ‘Darlington’ was just a label that added $100 000 to your house price…

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