From home supper clubs to warehouse dinners, popups are all the rage these days, and the hype isn’t always warranted. But in the case of Smokey O’s slow southern style bbq, it certainly is, and a staunch band of devotees flock to their pork in the park lunches and regular appearances at north of the bridge market stalls to fill their bellies with bee bee cue goodness. So when I found out they were popping up at my local cafe, The Rag Land, I knew I had to go and get a taste of whatever Americana-inspired breakfast/brunch/lunch treats they’d have on offer.

Monday 13th and Tuesday 14th of May,The Rag Land menu was chucked out the window (not literally) as they took a break from their usually bacon-less fare to fill the place with Tim’s apple smoked maple bacon. Four of us made the trek down to Dave’s to get Tim’s spin on cafe food, washed down with Dave’s Golden Cobra coffee.

Reading the menu, it was hard to choose, partly because everything sounded similar-ish and partly because we weren’t 100% sure what each thing involved. Texas toast, for example – it just sounds like you placed the word ‘Texas’ in front of toast to make it sound more American-y. But it turns out Texas toast is thick cut toast fried on both sides. I’m not a huge toast person, but I’m massively into all things fritter, so I went for the corn griddle cakes served with apple smoked maple bacon and capsicum relish. That sounds good, right? I think you need a proper description to really sell this dish though.

Ok, so you you know bacon? I think we can all agree that bacon is excellent, and that the smell of it cooking is up there with baking bread and freshly-ground and brewed coffee. But take a homemade piece of bacon smoked over apple wood chips, and cook it until it is both crisp and soft. How does this heavenly piece of fat-bound protein even exist? Now imagine a pikelet-like fritter of polenta-y goodness, soft and pillowy, yet charred on the outside, studded with sweet bursts of corn kernels and somehow not gritty in the least. Drape the bacon over it. Now for the relish. Sweet and smokey, chunky yet strangely creamy, so delicious you take your plate back to the kitchen for a second massive dollop, you just can’t help yourself.

This was my breakfast on Monday May 13th at approximately 9:00am. And in the interest of full disclosure, 2 hours later I swam a kilometre. So.

As far as I’m concerned, most things go with coffee. But Golden Cobra’s signature punch-in-the-mouth was particularly good with the sweet ‘n smoky bacon. I went my standard macch for starters while perusing the menu, but then I wanted a black coffee, still espresso, but something a little bit different, because I’m a high maintainance broad.

I went for a sparkling double ris, it’s not on the menu but Dave’s always happy to whip one up if you ask – basically, it’s mineral water with a double ristretto shot over it, which creates a crazy volcano-like foaming (mine almost overflowed). You get this amazing temperature contrast, with the chilled mineral water on the bottom and the hot crema on the top. You can find a recipe for something similar here, or go try it for yourself at the Rag Land.

You can find Tim’s menu from the popup here. If Smokey-O’s has you salivating, you can find them at The Beaches “Welcome to Winter” Market on Sunday 23rd June at the Pittwater Rugby Park, Warriewood, on facebook and *possibly* at a Rag Land-meets-Smokey O’s stall at the Naidoc Family and Sports Day on Friday July 12 at the NCIE, Redfern. As for The Rag Land? You can find the deets here.

I don’t often go out for breakfast these days, but when I do, I’m a sucker for a fritter and a good poached egg. Recently, I started trying to replicate the flavour and texture of café-style inch-thick, fluffy fritters in my own kitchen, and the results have been pretty amazing. Here are the 4 ‘fritter truths’ I discovered on my journey to corn fritter heaven.

Veggie Fritters from Gnome Espresso and Wine Bar, Surry Hills

1. Corn fritters aren’t just pancakes with a tin of corn chucked in. Not to say a batch of pancakes or pikelets studded with super sweet, fiberless corn kernels ain’t a delight to the palate, but there’s just so much more they COULD be. So I’ve discarded the pikelet + tinned corn method I’ve used since adolescence (served with a liberal slosh of sweet chilli sauce on the side).

Zucchini and Corn Fritters from Double Roasters, Marrickville

2. Good corn fritters are mostly corn, not batter; the main ingredient is given away in the title. The batter loosely bindes together the corn and other flavourful ingredients. It is light and fluffy and whipped-egg-white heavy (easy on the SR flour), and thus maleable. This means the fritters can be shallow or pan fried (even deep fried should the mood take you), in lumps or thick, flat saucer shapes.

Zucchini Fritters from The Reading Room, Footscray

3. Fresh corn is better! I’m told there are places in the world where the corn is so fresh and sweet you can gnaw is raw from the cob, but I don’t live in such a place so I find the corn needs to be sauteed a little pre-fritter. So saw those kernels off the cob, cook ‘em up, let ‘em cool and fold them into your feather-light batter, ready to dollop.

Zucchini and Haloumi Fritters from Le Monde, Surry Hills

4. There are other things in there besides corn. This was a revelation to me, but of course it makes sense. Garlic. Zucchini. Onions. Chilli. Fresh herbs. Salt and pepper. Spices. Mushrooms. Bacon. There are so many amazing tidbits you can toss into your sauteeing corn. Hell, there are so many ingredients you can use in PLACE of corn, I just really like corn.

Lau's Ultimate Corn Fritters (served with guac and crispy bacon)

Lau’s Ultimate Corn Fritters
serves 4 as a side

I’ve served these fritters many a way – with guac and crispy bacon, with tomato salsa and cumin yogurt, with asparagus and fried eggs. They are the perfect breakfast, brunch or breakfast for dinner.

For the guts of it
olive oil for pan frying (I prefer extra virgin)
1 single clove garlic bulb or 4 normal sized cloves
pinch salt
6-8 rashes bacon or similar, chopped
2 spring onions, chopped
1-2 Tbsp paprika
The kernels from 2 -3 small cobs of corn
½ bunch coriander, leaves finely chopped
For the batter itself
2 eggs, separated
¼ cup milk
½-¾ cup self-raising flour
To Serve
Crispy bacon
Guac

Heat the oil in a medium frying pan, sautee garlic with salt until soft. Add in bacon and cook until beginning to brown. Add spring onions, paprika and corn and cook until corn kernels are soft but still have some bite to them. Remove pan from heat and stir through coriander. Transfer to a large bowl to cool (perhaps in the fridge).

Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks.

Whisk milk and egg yolks together.

Once cooled, add enough flour to the corn mix so that everything is well coated. Fold through the yolk and milk mixture completely, then gently fold in the egg whites.

Dollop 8 dollops on a medium low grill or pan (oiled), flip when golden brown. Cook until cooked through.

Serve as you like. Suggestions include: crispy bacon, non-crispy bacon, guac, salsa, hot sauce, sour cream, poached eggs, fried eggs, hummus, greek yogurt, rocket, basil… the possibilities are endless.

What’s your go-to café breakfast?

Tagged with:
 

So apparently there’s a rumour going around that I’m multiple people, I *think* this might be because if you follow me on instagram I’m all over the place lately. Fear not, chums, I am the one and only Lauren Quinn of Corridor Kitchen, I’m just *ahem* between projects right now, and that gives me ample time to drink coffee all over. In the last two months I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Newcastle and surrounds, Canberra, Bendigo/Castlemaine/Daylesford, the Great Ocean Road, and even good old Melbourne town. And I bet you wanna know my go-to for espresso magic (and no, I don’t mean that bullshit flat white concoction) in Melbourne. ‘Cause good coffee in melbs is so hard to find.

The last couple of times I was in the Melbourne CBD, I made a beeline for Naked Espresso, a cute and well known place on Little Bourke Street. These guys use naked portafilters for their espresso (hence their name) but they also tick the specialty coffee box with their selection of ‘new brew’ techniques such as aeropress and pourover.

This place is a coffee nerd’s paradise; their blackboards list the day’s brews complete with tasting notes, and they sell enough different beans, gadgets and paraphernalia to keep the caffeine-obsessed happy for yonks. The coffee menu changes often, with appearances from the likes of Market Lane, Axil Coffee Roasters and even Naked’s own house blend. On my most recent visit, there were couple of Market lane single O’s on offer for syphon/pourover/aeropress, the house blend for espresso-based coffees and an Axil single origin as their guest coffee.

I sample the market lane Juan Ticona brewed as an Aeropress, it has a lovely chocolatey flavour, mild and delicious. My companion and I also go macch-wild on the house blend – vibrant, vivid, deep and bittersweet, it is an absolute pleasure to savour. Even the aftertaste is sublime.

The menu is a simple affair. There are a a few brekky things- toast and its cousins, baked eggs, porridge and an array of jaffles. They charge 50 cents for swapping/changing ingredients, which I think is fair enough. But this place is really about the coffee. Our house of worship, we are devotees at the caffeine alter. Freshly ground beans are our processional incense. I could sit here forever.

Naked Espresso
390 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
03 9670 3569

Naked Espresso Bar on Urbanspoon

Tagged with:
 

When it comes to cafes, word of mouth is a very powerful tool. Good word of mouth, before you’ve even opened, allows you to embed you café deep in a suburb, rather than jostling with the rest of the gun baristas for custom on the main drag. Hell, you can even start your own hub of hipness in a post-industrial wasteland.

It also ensures a good mix of truly local customers and those who are willing to really look for their next caffeine hit. A counterintuitive business strategy, but one which has been well established – make your product accessible, but not *too* convenient. Put your small bar down an allyway or behind a suit shop. Plant your flagship Aussie donut store in Penrith. Make your customers hunt around a bit. The rest is history.

So to say that Excelsior Jones is off the beaten path/in an unexpected place/not where you’d think would be a tad misleading. It’s exactly where you’d think- in a suburb crying out for a good café, and I’m betting there’ll be plenty more where this came from.

On Excelsior Jones’ second day of trade the place is packed with the caffeine-iratti, should such a thing exist, plus food bloggers/writers and curious locals. My companion and I order a pair of macchs and some toast. The cups are prewarmed (always a good sign) and I like the diy butter and veg for the toast – you never know what ratio a customer’s gonna want on their sourdough. Jones’ houseblend of five senses coffee goes down a treat with just a splash of milk – a bright flavour settling across the roof of the mouth, with a pleasant kick to follow.

The decor is warm minimalist, the colour scheme painstakingly well thought out. Everything is wood, warm grey, chocolate brown and white; even the cups, salt and pepper shakers and upcycled sugar jars harmonise, without being matchy-matchy. The whole place has a matt patina, loads of light and bare walls. It’s as beautiful as it is uplifting.

My second visit is just over a week later with two friends for an early public holiday Monday brekky. As I wait for my mates I sip away at my macch and browse the menu. This seems to be the family shift, mums, dads and under sevens, and a sprinkling of couples. The place is really loud, kind of a given with high ceilings, wooden floors, huge windows and small children. Once we’re a table of three we can barely hear each other speak. It’s something to keep in mind when timing your visit.

Menu-wise, there’s nothing over $16, but it is worth noting that servings aren’t huge. Between us we order the delectable sourdough pikelets (there are three), a fruit salad of poached and fresh summer fruits, a daub of yogurt and a pinch of oats, and eggs benny. Overall they are quality, simple breakfasts, what you’d expect but done with finesse. Sides aren’t cheap though, and you may need a few if you have a big breakfast appetite. Lucky for me, my usual gripe with brekky is that it leaves me too full, so I’m happy with the portion size.

The menu also includes lunch (which begins at noon) of two sambos, two salads, one cheeseburger and a pasta, as well as fries, and nuggets and chips for the kiddiewinks. The lunches that have been cluttering up my instagram feed appear simple and well presented.

I found the service to be relaxed, friendly and switched on. Staff were attentive, personable, and all-round lovely. There is strong attention to detail in everything these guys do, and I hope this continues. It would be an ideal setting for a bit of coffee gadgetry, and maybe a bit of experimentation menu-wise. Well-executed classics aside, I’d love to see these guys really get creative.

Excelsior Jones
139a Queen Street, Ashfield NSW 2131
02 9799 3240
www.excelsiorjones.com
Tuesday – Friday 7:30am – 4:00pm
Weekends 8:00am – 4:00pm
Closed Mondays

Excelsior Jones on Urbanspoon

I fear that Canberra, much like Sydney, is in serious danger of burning through its allocation of milk crates. Not because of the popularity of milk, but rather because they serve as seating for the crop of on-trend cafés popping up in old (but not in a retro way) shopfronts all over town. I love/hate this trend for numerous reasons. Milk crates are fine to sit on (with cushioning); they serve as a signal to customers, ‘take this coffee joint seriously’. But while they look incidental, in an ‘oh we were just SO BUSY making GROUNDBREAKING espresso we forgot to buy chairs!’ kind of a way, they are entirely deliberate. This is why there’s a countrywide shortage. I assume.

Red Brick espresso is no exception. Milk crates are scattered plentifully out the front of this Curtin café, and they’ve taken it to another level with the accompanying tables, made of bread crates. I hope there’s not a delivery guy out Fyshwick way somewhere going broke for lack of crates.

We stand at the counter for a while waiting to order, staff seem a little harried so we wait as they hand out the takeaways. We order coffee and seat ourselves in the unmistakeably Canberran, light-filled and cleverly renovated space, which, as we’re in the southside of Canberra, could’ve been anything in a past life- a house, a pharmacy, or a sex shop – all roads lead to rectangular brick structures. The guys behind the espresso machine look like they know what’s what – they roast their own coffee here, and are well and truly the third wave.

The coffee arrives. One of our piccolos is spilled a bit and the young waitress runs and grabs us a serviette. How about a fresh saucer? The spillage is hardly her fault though, the piccolos are almost flat white flat. My macch is cool, as are all the coffees, and nothing about the flavour grabs me. It’s fine, I can’t fault the method on my macch (other than the temperature, and I’m not a hot coffee drinker), so maybe this blend just isn’t for me.

The Red Brick Espresso Hombres were recently quoted in Cafe Culture as saying “We looked at what’s happening elsewhere and said, ‘why can’t we do it here?’ Red Brick ticks all the boxes and, if I lived in this neck of the woods, I’d be here daily. But no matter how many milk crates you give someone to sit on or whether you roast your own beans, it all goes to crap when a teenage girl spills your latte. And for the record, I’ve been back since, the coffee was still lukewarm, and I’ve heard the same from others. But I guess if I was from New York and came to visit my mates in Surry Hills, I’d feel like the café culture here is just a watered down version of what’s going on back home. For all I know the Williamsberg peeps are sitting on upturned shopping trolleys these days. I pray that trend doesn’t make it here.

Red Brick Espresso
4/35 Curtin Place, Curtin ACT 2605
02 6285 1668
http://www.redbrickespresso.com.au/
Monday-Friday 7:30am – 4:30pm
Saturday 7:30am – 4:00pm
Sundays 7:00am – 2:00pm

Red Brick Espresso on Urbanspoon

Tagged with:
 

3 food bloggers, 3 cafes, 3 great macchs

Food blogging is one area of my life where I can honestly say I find myself perpetually delighted, and that’s mostly down to the people I meet. Food bloggers want to meet you. They want to eat with you. They want to show you around. So that’s how it came to be that on the morning after the eat fest that was Eat Drink Blog 2012, Hayes of Adeladie food blog The Chopping Board (who wasn’t even at the conference) and Sarah (who was) went on a coffee crawl with Perth blogger Ai-Ling (who doesn’t even drink coffee) and I (who most definitely does). We hit three cafés in less than three hours and thoroughly enjoyed every microgram of caffeine imparted on us by this ‘city of churches’.

1. Coffee Branch

Coffee branch is located in the faux-laneway of Leigh street in the CBD proper and has a rep for being one of the best coffee spots in the area. South Australia digital online marketer Sarah Rhodes who was at Eat. Drink. Blog. with us suggested it and joined us for coffee numero uno. When we arrive just after 9:30am its suit-a-rama. The space is tiny and narrow so after ordering I join the other three outside in the humidity for coffee and conversation. Our coffees are quick to arrive and they incorrectly announce Sarah’s as a skim flat white, but it turns out to be the full fat latte we ordered, so no worries.

I would describe the flavour of my macch as very gentle. It is actually more of a picchiatto or a macchollo, who knows. I appreciate the latte art heart, don’t get me wrong, but the coffee itself is underwhelmingly mild. I’d return though, I know I overuse this word but it’s a solid choice in the Adelaide CBD. Friendly staff, coffees came out quickly and I reeeaaallly had to hold myself back from ordering a pastry.

Coffee Branch
32 Leigh Street Adelaide, SA 5000
0451 661 980
Monday – Friday 7:00am – 5:00pm

Coffee Branch on Urbanspoon

2. Nano

Our next stop is Nano as recommended by my mate and former Adelaide-ian (is that a word?) Erin of The Canberran, and she outta know, she blogged 35 Adelaide cafes in 35 days before relocating to The Nation’s Capital. Nano is actually an Italian restaurant and I’d love to come back and try the food. It is also a well-known coffee haunt in what Urbanspoon describes as ‘the Rundle Street area’ but I think might actually be called the east end, a schmick but still uni-student-friendly enclave of eateries, pubs and stores which a continuation of Adelaide’s Rundle Street mall.

Nano’s coffee isn’t particularly photogenic but it does impress. Microfoam notwithstanding, it definitely has a kick to it and I can see why the locals cite it as a consistently good choice. Hayes has no complaints about his flat white and Ai-ling, who doesn’t actually drink coffee, chows down on an omelette. I can’t resist the italian doughnut, a crisp ring dusted with crystals of sugar and a pillowy insides. I happily dunk away in my macchiato, which while not technically perfect froth-wise delivers a strong, balanced and well-rounded flavour. I prefer it to our first coffee.

Nano
23 Ebenezer Place Adelaide, SA 5000
08 8227 0468
Monday – Friday 7:15am – 4:00pm
Saturday – Sunday 8:15am – 4:00pm

Nano on Urbanspoon

3. Hey Jupiter

The others leave me to continue my coffee crawl, Hayes is off to work and Ai-Ling to catch a plane home to Perth. I pop in to the teensy Hey Jupiter which is a relatively new addition to the east end and about a ten second walk from Nano. From the outside, with its brightly-coloured cafe chairs and tables and shop-front-style window it looks like nothing special. But inside the walls are lathered a gorgeous green and studded with vintage mirrors, walnut-coloured stools and hutches crouch here and there and spheres of glass hang, pendulum-like from the ceiling, casting a sepia glow. It’s like having your coffee break inside a vintage terrarium.

I order my trusty macch and park myself in the corner where I can drink in the decor. It’s a rich and concentrated shot with just a smidge of foam and milk and it’s a good third coffee. I’m kind of glad I hit this place alone. As I meditate over my macch, complete with paper doily, sure, I feel pretty jittery (that’s the caffeine), but I couldn’t think of a nicer way to end the weekend.

Hey Jupiter
11 Ebenezer Place Adelaide, SA 5000
0416 050 721
Monday – Friday 7:00am – 3:00pm
Saturday 8:00am – 3:00pm
Closed Sundays

Hey Jupiter on Urbanspoon

I’m really glad I’ve started taking daily walks. Ok, so I sound like a 65 year old woman, but it was on my very first such ‘constitutional’ that I spotted Sub-Station, a cute (but sadly closed that day) little cafe in Alexandria. I told my man-friend about the place and he beat me to it that very week, getting the inside scoop via his charming personality (note to self: get a charming personality).

Sub-Station Cafe opened just over a month ago in, you guessed it, Alexandria. It is housed in a beautifully renovated electric substation (Substation 152), a long narrow space with a fantastic indoor/outdoor area, warmly minimalist with a homey touch. The attention to detail in the decor is to be admired, from the patina of the floor to the bare bulb light fittings crafted from bedsprings.

Sub-Station has a spotlight-on-the-ingredients kind of café menu. We ordered the Avocado Toast to share which was a generous plate of soy and linseed toast and seasoned fresh tomato and avocado. I like the diy approach, which is the same for their big breakky, a kind of platter of various toast toppings plus eggs. They also have a lunch menu of sambos and salads. It’s all very simple, fresh food, assembled more than cooked, that seems to be all the rage right now in Sydney, especially at bakeries or coffee obsessed cafés. Personally I am a fan of this kind of menu as there’s only so much candied bacon I can take.

Either their single origin house blend is amazing or they have an amazingly skilled barista on staff (you never can tell). Case in point my man and me had not one criticism to make in terms of either flavour or form. After three visits, I can’t fault them, and among our crew we’ve sampled macchs, picollos, caps and espressos- all black or full cream milk coffees, no sugar, an espresso nazi’s dream. Maybe a soy (they use bonsoy) or skim drinker will have a different take on the place.

Any criticisms I have are not related to the coffee or the food. It’s order and pay at the counter, but there’s no real way of knowing that unless you ask. This can lead to awkwardness, like when a waitress comes to take away your empty cups and plates and you ask for another coffee… Do they want you to pay now? Oh no, that’s ok. But wait, isn’t it order and pay at the counter? Confusing. Also it’s always easier to upsell and people are more likely to order more coffees when there’s a bill at the end, that’s just human nature, but at the very least it needs to be well signposted.

And on the subject of signposts, I think it’s a good idea to have more than one copy of a printed menu available, or some kind of massive blackboard up. Basically, without food choices written up, people may not know you serve food, although I would say all the delectable loaves of bread stacked up everywhere, plus the food prep going on, would give you a clue. The first time I went, there was one menu for the whole place. The second time, no menus. Unfortunately, people need to be told what’s what, e.g. ‘Here’s a list of what we serve. Please order and pay at the counter.’

Those two criticisms aside, this is a brand new business which is still finding its feet and barely stumbling. It’s run by really friendly people and housed in a gorgeous space, with a tempting but simple menu and excellent coffee. I am completely stoked to have these guys in my ‘hood.



Sub-Station Cafe
124 Mcevoy Street Alexandria NSW 2015
Monday – Friday 6:30am – 4:00pm
Saturday 8:00am – 4:00pm
www.facebook.com/SubStationCafe
Closed Sundays (for now)

Sub-Station Cafe on Urbanspoon

Time was if I told someone I lives in Alexandria, I’d have to explain where it was. Usually I’d just say Redfern. More recently, mention Alexandria and you conjur up images of chic warehouse hotspots like The Grounds or Kitchen by Mike. That’s just dandy, but those are hardly ‘stroll-in-for-a-quick-coffee’ joints.

So it is with a touch of trepidation I begin this post on The Rag Land, a new cafe on Raglan street in Waterloo which is relatively unknown. A couple of weeks ago they liked me on facebook and when I saw where they were located, my heart skipped a beat and I liked them back. And when I read that they serve Golden Cobra Coffee, of which I am a fan, I was extra psyched to give them a go.

I popped in on a weekday morning for a rich strong macchiato and a spot of eavesdropping. I was only one of three customers, the other two ladies were super excited to quiz the owner on his new business and tell him all about the area. They seemed pretty happy to have a cafe nearby and I have to say that after 8 years living in the ‘hood I tend to agree. It’s good to have another solid local business in the area.

An old Polish deli, the place has been kitted out with secondhand/upcycled/repurposed goods, most of which are for sale. Its really the first business of this type in the immediate area, the nearest cafes being up the road on Regent Street. The space looks like what it is – an old shop that’s been whitewashed and adorned with bric a brac. I’ve been by twice now and both times have been good, if a tad awkward in that we’re-a-new-business kinda way.

Owners Dave and Laura, previously of Dj Espresso have put together a solid menu of breakkies and sambos which I think is priced well for the area. There’s plenty of Pork Belly, which they hope to make their ‘thing’. I’ve had a few coffees there and some delicious smashed eggs, a generous portion of sourdough slices laden with boiled eggs, avo and parsley-heavy salsa. I have to say I’m impressed.

The Rag Land
129 Raglan St,Waterloo NSW 2017
http://theragland.tumblr.com/

Tuesday–Friday 7:00am-3:00pm
Saturday 8:00am-3:00pm
Sunday 9:00am-2:00pm
Closed Mondays

The Rag Land on Urbanspoon

Tagged with:
 

Working a three day week has so many benefits, I can’t count them on both my hands. One of my favourite things about it is I get to go to cafes at non-peak times, soak up the atmosphere and have a couple of leisurely coffees. No matter how much fun that is though, it’s always better to have someone to share it with, to revel in it like a kid wagging school. That’s why I’m glad I got to check out Cowbell with my mate Elise of beauty blog Stuff That I Bought. What’s more, she told me her idea for The Potluck Club, so it was a pretty mach a business meeting, yeah?

The Cowbell 808 menu is a 1-pager, listing 13 items. Its a fusion of ingredients and cuisines, served up cafe style, presenting a mish mash of meal times. It’s not the usual suspects ingredients-wise, although weirdly, its what you’d expect. House made is the word du jour; these guys make everything from their own yogurt, to their own bacon. Now that’s hardcore.

Ticking off at least 2 of the 5 big Sydney trends this year, the menu also has a slight ‘americana’ influence. Case in point, fried chicken with ‘slaw, and my dining companion’s order of fat stacked ricotta hotcakes with marscarpone, bacon maple ice cream and espresso syrup. I like that they don’t separate things based on time of day – if you want to have a burger for breakfast, or a Banancolada (house made coconut yogurt with roast banana and lime), feel free. Elise declares her hotcakes delicious but super filling – she eats about half.

I’m well and truly past my one-coffee-a-day limit, ordering two macchs from the list of ‘liquid vices’ (and I had an espresso before I left home…) I’m impressed, but far too lazy to check something basic like what coffee these guys use. It’s an organic house blend, but I’m not sure if they roast it themselves or have someone do it for them. That would be because I don’t much care what coffee is used, as long as its good. Anyone who knows let me know, it seems like the kind of fact I should have on hand.

I’m not sure why there’s a basketball hoop, a graffitti mural or a disco ball in the cafe. Sure, it fits with the 80’s/music theme, but I’m not convinced it makes for a cohesive aesthetic. The rest- second hand furniture, scrabble letters spelling out the coffee menu, the huge windows flooding the room with light, the selectively exposed brick- I love.

We checked out Cowbell 808 on a Monday morning, so we weren’t faced with the hideous crowds that swamped the newly opened, Short Black-mentioned cafe in the previous couple of days. The service was beyond lovely and not pushy – the people working there were so attentive and generally, dare I say it, caring. And they didn’t even blink when I started snapping away, which is excellent, because I always feel awkward doing so. Word on the street (not sure which street, but there you go) is that the weekend experience is a lot less fun. What can I say, chuck a sickie. It’s worth it for the hotcakes and the rich, creamy macchs on offer. I will be back, if only to try the sundae.

Cowbell 808
616 Bourke Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010
(02) 9698 5044
Open 7 days
7:00am – 4:00pm

Cowbell 808 on Urbanspoon

Tagged with:
 

You’ve gotta love a coffee place that bills itself as ‘the second best coffee in Marrickville’ (and the 11th best in Australia). Regardless of the quality of their coffee, its fair to assume they have a sense of humour. At least, that was my logic the first time I tried to go to Whole Bean, on a Saturday, but the joke was on me as at that point, they weren’t open Saturdays (they are now), so I added them to my list for sometime soon.

‘Sometime soon’ came sooner than I thought, as one gorgeous day last week I headed there with my partner in coffee and in life to try the second best coffee in Marrickville. Whole Bean is housed in a Marrickville Warehouse just off Victoria Road, and comprised of a coffee roaster, syphon bar and more edison light bulbs than you can poke a stick at, not to mention recycled coffee sacks and velvet curtains. It’s a cavernous space, and one you can rent out for functions, should you be so inclined. The space is large and there’s plenty of seating, another benefit of many cafes in this part of town.

Our coffee arrives and my macch looks suspiciously like a ristretto. I return it and they make me a macch at lightning speed. Maybe it’s because when I was a kid, my mum used to give me the foam off her cappucino after a morning’s grocery shopping, but I’m a fan of a macch with plenty of foam, and this one doesn’t deliver. However, it’s a good macch. My partner’s picollo impresses the pants off him, thankfully not literally, but it has a the deep, solid and well rounded flavour that stands up to the generous slosh of milk you get in a picollo.

It seems counter intuitive, but there’s more good coffee in Marrickville than there is in somewhere like Newtown. Maybe it has something to do with the abundance of warehouses (and thus coffee roasters), but then how would you explain Surry Hills? Either way, Whole Bean is a solid coffee choice in a solid coffee suburb. We’ll be back.

Whole Bean
38 Chapel Street
Marrickville NSW 2204
02 9565 4063
http://www.wholebean.com.au/
Monday to Friday: 7:00am – 3:00pm
Saturday: 8:00am – 3:00pm
Closed Sundays

Whole Bean - Espresso Bar on Urbanspoon

Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.
Get Adobe Flash player