Street-food-inspired café Cubao opened quietly last week in the former Little Indi site inside the Hardware Store, Alexandria. The café is the brainchild of Something for Jess owner Philip Ocampo, and I had been waiting with bated breath to see who would take over the space, so it would be an understatement to say that I was keen to check the place out.

Something for Jess is one of my favourite recent cafés, and their reputation is such that their very particular single origin coffees and glorious (and local) constructions of ‘stuff on toast’ have made their way on to most Sydney café addicts’ wish lists, so comparisons between Cubao and SFJ are inevitable. So too are comparisons between Cubao and the space’s former tenants, zero waste wunderkinds Frank Meura and Rebecca Chippington of Little Indi/Naked Indiana. So how does Cubao compare?

First up, the coffee. After 4 or 5 visits and many more espressos than that, I’m impressed. I will say that Cubao is not yet in the same league as neither the custom-roasted, hand-pumped Little Indi, nor the singular and always exceptional SFJ. They’re still finding their feet with their 5 senses beans, but the coffee is very, very good.

You might want to pop your head in at the counter in the entrance to the hardware store to order, at least for the initial and inevitable coffee or tea (and there’s a pretty decent-looking tea list, not that I’d know anything about that), most of the seating is outside, save a few seats at the bar if you feel like talking specialty coffee with ol’ Phil.

Food wise, Cubao serves up moderately-sized (and priced) globally-inspired brekkies and lunches; about seven items in total. It’s not necessarily about creating authentic international plates, more about rethinking Aussie cafe fare to be portable, diverse and street-food-inspired. Small but filling and with various options, my favourite so far of the three dishes I’ve tried is the ful wat; a braise of lentils and eggplant with a garnish of salty fetta, a squeeze of lemon or lime, warmed bread and egg. Sounds simple, but it’s anything but plain.

Overall, Ocampo has managed to make the place his own with a nod to his other business, reference the Little Indi guys and still keep things current, tasty, global and simple all at once. This is just the kind of café I want in my neighbourhood and luckily, that’s exactly where it is.

Cubao Street Food
50 McCauley Street
Alexandria NSW 2015
Monday – Friday 7:00am – 2:30pm
Closed Weekends

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.

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

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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

A recommendation from a friend is always handy to have, but sometimes a recommendation from a stranger is even better. Since I started Corridor Kitchen I’ve had so many great suggestions from friends, co-bloggers and readers as to where to find great coffee and food, I can’t keep up! My urbanspoon wishlist currently totals 197 to-try places! But keep ‘em coming, I say.

Kaye emailed me a while ago and suggested I check out PS Cafe in Dulwich Hill. It’s right by the train station, which is always a good thing for a non-driver like myself, but my sweet Signor R chauffeured me nonetheless. It’s an unassuming little corner place, like many in the inner west, part of a clump of local shops near a train station. A bit like Paper Cup in Stanmore or Cornersmith in Marrickville.

We arrive bright and early one Saturday morning at this cute little corner cafe with equally cute staff, who take our coffee order while we wait for the other half of our party. If a bicycle on the wall signals a coffee mecca, Senhor R muses, this place must do pretty good coffee- there’s vintage scooter parked inside! It’s secondhand furniture wall-to-wall (pro tip – cheaper in Dulwich than Surry Hills) and quirky knick knacks abound. It’s a little chilly with the doors left open, but there you go.

A glance at the menu reveals the usual breakky and lunch fare, but with a greek twist, loukanikos (Greek pork sausages), vanilla submarines and haloumi being examples. I hear almost everything is made in house, from the cakes to the jams and sauces to the sausages. Impressive.

Our chums arrive and we get ordering. Today’s house-made chipolatas are described as ‘quite spicy’, so that gets ordered, along with a bacon and egg roll with aioli and various combos of eggs, toast and sides, including the kumera and basil hash, which is more like mashed kumera which is then pan fried, but who’s complaining?

What I like about the breakfast is they’ve set it up very design-your-own – the guts of the breakky menu is free range eggs with your choice of toast (sourdough, soy and linseed or rye) and then there are 12 different sides to choose from. It’s all very reasonably priced. None of the food blows anyone’s mind, but the servings are generous and the service is good.

Man, this place is strong on coffee. It is strong a dark-tasting, but not overwhelming- it feels like the flavour coats your whole tongue. I’d describe the flavour as very solid and cohesive, if that makes sense – there are layers, but they are tightly grouped. I like it so much I order a second macch. Caffé deluca, who would’ve thunk?



PS Cafe
245 Wardell Road
Dulwich Hill NSW 2203
0403 412 860
Open 7 Days for breakfast and lunch

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There’s something in the water in Alexandria. One by one, disused warehouses are being converted into cafes and bars. Sympathetic renovations abound – think Allpress Espresso, Kitchen by Mike, Don Campos, Bread and Circus or Sonomo HQ. Further afield you’ve got the likes of Brasserie Bread and Freda’s Bar and Canteen taking up residence. Add The Grounds to the list of cavernous and ultra modern spaces slightly off the beaten path of the inner southwest.

The Grounds is situated on the corner of Huntley street and Bourke Road. It’s is in the same ‘complex’ as 4143 at The James Barnes. It felt like this place would never open, but open it did for the first time yesterday, so this morning I went to check it out.

When we arrive, I count ten staff. We order our coffees and are told since we’re having them in, to take a seat and then order. The coffee takes a while, which is odd considering the gaggle of waiters clustered around the till and the small number of customers. To be fair, we did arrive at 7:15am on their second day of trade, and I know from experience that a POS system can be a pain in the arse to get going. When it arrives, the coffee is good. Well-rounded flavour, and well presented.

The Grounds is an amazing space. Imagine a kind of barn (well, former pie factory), all rustic wooden finishes and concrete floors (drool), lit with tungsten lights and dotted with industrial touches like exposed copper pipe. This space cries out to be described in cliches – rustic, post-industrial, but above all, beautiful. You can view the coffee roasters through glass panels and on the wall behind neon yellow letters spell out ‘Research Facility’.

The ‘barn’ opens out onto a large garden/courtyard and there’s plenty of seating to while away the hours. There you’ll find a micro-garden of herbs, fruit and veggies, with chickens no less, giving Cornersmith a run for its money in the made-from-scratch stakes. They also bake their own bread and roast their own beans, and plan to hold cupping and coffee making classes. If you take a quick squiz at Katie Quinn Davies’ (no relation) shoot for The Grounds, I think you’ll agree their home style food (could they BE any more on trend) looks pretty bloody scrumptious. I for one can’t wait to try it.

All in all I’m delighted to have these guys in my backyard. And I plan to spend a lot of time in theirs.

The Grounds of Alexandria
7a/2 Huntly Street (corner Bourke Road)
Alexandria NSW 2015
http://groundsroasters.com/
Monday-Friday 7:00am-4:00pm
Weekends 7:00am – 3:00pm

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I kept thinking Cornersmith was called Cornerstone. I kept meaning to go there and never making it. But I finally made it the morning of the Sydney Food Bloggers Picnic last month, and I wasn’t dissappointed.

Cornersmith is the kind of joint that’s closed for pickling on Mondays. Yes, really, I didn’t get that from some kind of Hipster’s Encyclopaedia of cafe descriptors (remind me to write that, if I ever get a chance). They do all kinds of locavore/DIY things like buying backyard produce and making their own jam. They have a beehive on their roof! Basically, they’re the cafe equivalent of a Portlandia sketch.

All this and more means that I was there with bells on at whatever time it was that Saturday. Cornersmith is right by Marrickville station, which is super convenient for someone like me who hates buses. It’s got great decor, clean white walls, jars of pickles adorning the counter and a good mix of natural timber and understated vintage furniture.

Me and my mate order and pay at the counter and nab the only free table. Our toast/coffee/toast/macch order comes out at $32, and I realise there must be a mistake. That’s the problem with order-and-pay-at-the-counter with somewhere as busy as Cornersmith – mistakes are bound to be made. Our bill gets downgraded to a much more reasonable $19, phew!

I’m a fan of the coffee and I’m a fan of the vibe, although Saturday morning is pretty hectic. I’m enjoying my Mecca macchiatto, apparently my friend’s mocha is no slouch either. The menu is simple, a lot of toast-and-toppings on offer, with many tthings made on site – from honey, to pickles, chutneys and jams. Cornersmith strives to be self-sufficient. They also sell their products, and other peoples’, instore.

The reviews have generally been positive and I can see why, although they’ve also been victim of some pretty harsh graffitti, with ‘yuppy scum’ painted across the storefront and the windows bashed in. All in all I will definitely return if I’m ever in the hood.

Cornersmith
314 Illawarra Road
Marrickville NSW 2204
(02) 8065 0844
Tuesday to Friday 6.30am – 3.30pm
Saturday and Sunday 8:00am – 3:00pm
Monday – closed for pickling

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I’m not much for standing in queues. Then again, I’m assuming it’s something not many of us look forward to. Let me rephrase that – if I have to line up and wait for a table at a restaurant or café, I won’t. The line turns me off. The hype turns me off. The way I see it, there are plenty of other fish in the sea. And some of those fish might even be salt encrusted Portuguese sardines cooked on hot coals. But I digress.

bakery window corridor kitchen

So it will come as no surprise to anyone that I’m not the least bit interested in checking out the Bourke Street Bakery that is actually on Bourke Street- that line around the block is way too Porteño for me (Haha. Clever double entendre there). Until recently I had been to all their other branches, including their now defunct Broadway branch and their offshoot Central Baking Depot.

choc croissant

But I hadn’t been to their Marrickville store, and I vowed to before they open another branch. Oh wait, they just did. It’s in Potts Point and apparently even bigger. Anyway, I finally went to check out a couple of weeks ago, in what shall be known as ‘Lau and Senhor R’s weekend of bakery madness’, where we checked out Bourke Street Bakery Marrickville, Brasserie Bread in Banksmeadow and Sonoma Alexandria (twice). And when I say ‘checked out’ you of course understand that I mean ‘drank coffee and ate pastries at every single bakery.’

The reason Bourke Street Bakery Marrickville has been on my to-visit list forever is that I heard rumours there’s actually room to sit down. And guess what? The rumours are true. The interior, although hardly spacious, does have sufficient seating and there’s also a clump of tables outside. The large windows give lots of light, which bounces off the chrome industrial-looking stools. There’s a big rack of bread at one end of the shop, a mesmerising fridge of cakes and pastries in the middle and a large communal table at the end. I order two macchiatos and a chocolate croissant and we grab a seat.

Let me make this clear for those of you who don’t know: people RAVE about these guys. Their cookbook is a best seller. Their bread sells out every day. Customers wait with bated breath for the first batch of their legendary pork and fennel sausage rolls (a reliable source tells me this happens around 10:30am). Freaking hell, even David Lebovits loves the place, claiming their bread ‘rivalled anything (he) could get back home in Paris.’

So what did we think? Well, the pain au chocolat, although I’m no David Lebovits, was amazing – the pastry crisp and golden on the outside, puffed and layered in the middle and buttery all the way through. The coffee was lovely as well and I managed to (mostly) resist dunking the pastry in it. Stay tuned in the coming weeks to hear what I think of their sourdough, but I’ll give you a hint – we’ve bought three loaves in the last couple of weeks.

What about you? Do lines outside restaurants turn you on or turn you off?

Bourke Street Bakery, Marrickville
2 Mitchell Street
Marrickville NSW 2204
bourkestreetbakery.com.au

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Sydney food bloggers suffer from the paradox of choice. We are presented with so many food choices, trends and fads that sometimes we become paralysed. We can’t decide what to have for dinner. It’s a hard life.

Last weekend, having just finished up The $35 Challenge where there was very little in the way of food choice, I was far from paralysed by this paradox. In fact, I was salivating, and not even necessarily at the variety of food offered up by the harbour city, but at the very concept of choice itself. Now. What to eat first?

I knew exactly where my first foray back into foodie-ville would take me. A week or so ago, after a tip-off from kindred blogger Inner West Foodie, I got an email from Ashfield council inviting me to its three upcoming festivals: Ashfield’s Tastes of Asia (Friday night), Haberfield’s Primavera (Saturday) and The Summer Hill Grand Food Bazaar (Sunday), all part of the Crave Sydney Food Festival. Friday I was still on The $35 Challenge and Sunday the inner-west trains weren’t running so I knew I’d be at Haberfield come Saturday. It was to be my only Crave Sydney Food Festival event, and one I’m glad I didn’t miss. Haberfield isn’t a suburb I’ve spent much time in, so I welcomed the chance for a bit of exploration. And with Ashfield Council promising 100% local stallholders (specifically, no gozlëme) I was hooked.

These days, no matter how awesome the food festival, there are always your usual suspects. I’ve written about it before, but there’s your tapas stall, your gozlëme, your poffitjes. You’ll find them at the night noodle markets, at the Campsie Food Festival and the Glebe Markets. Ok, there’s a reason they’re so ubiquitous – they’re solid crowd pleasers. But I think that markets and festivals have a brief, a theme, and I think they should stick to that brief. If the theme is noodles, there should be noodles. If the theme is, say, a suburb, the festival should be made up of businesses from that suburb or at least that area. If the theme is a country or region, there should only be stalls serving food from that region.

I applaud Ashfield Council for sticking to its own brief. Haberfield’s Primavera was made up entirely of businesses from Haberfield – in fact, I think it was made up entirely of businesses from the Ramsay and Dalhousie streets. It is quite a small festival, so maybe that will change as it garners more interest. But I hope not. Aside from The National Multicultural Festival earlier this year, it’s one of the only food festivals I’ve been to that has truly stuck to its own brief.

When I arrived, there wasn’t much to see. Ramsay and Dalhousie streets were blocked off with a caravan stage in the middle of the crossroads with everything quite spread out. This is because the stalls were located directly in front of businesses, which I thought was a fantastic idea. It meant that the stallholders could cook in their own kitchen if they wanted and punters would easily be able to return for a meal sometime if they liked what they tasted.

The point of Haberfield’s Primavera is to showcase the flavours of the local area. To this end, everything served was in very small portions, with nothing costing more than $5. This made it not only affordable, but (my favourite part) it meant that you could try many different dishes without feeling like a huge, ridiculous whale at the end of it. For the businesses involved, it also ensured the maximum number of customers would get to taste their food. It’s impossible to object to eating a small $4 treat sitting in the gutter on a beautiful spring day, let alone several treats. Thus, Haberfield Primavera managed to circumvent the much uttered criticism of ‘But I could pay $15 to eat that in a restaurant! Why would I pay that to sit in a park/on the ground/standing in the street?!’

And I ate so many things. I started with fried zucchini flowers stuffed with cheese and anchovy from Haberfield Post. They probably needed to drain and cool a bit, I got way too excited and ate mine fast. I’d brought my (vego) mum along to take photos and she said ‘Oh…I think that had and anchovy in it.’ Damn, Italy, always with the secret fish. Ah, well.

At the Zanetti 5 Star Delicatessen they had free samples of olives, salami and cheese. We tried the Sicilian green olives marinated in lemon and garlic and vowed to go back and buy a tub. Out the front of the iconic Lamonica IGA where an old man played the piano accordian I grabbed a $1.50 espresso which was heavy on the crema but also on the bitterness. Ah, well. You get what you pay for, I guess.

At La Pasteria they were selling two things: meat lasagne and spinach and ricotta cannelloni. I grabbed a lasagne, it was pretty greasy but in a guilty pleasure kind of way, super rich, cheesy and tomato-y. At the same time, the flavours were very simple; just folds of pasta and cheesy Bolognese. Heaven.

I lost track of how much time we spent staring at and photographing the gorgeous Italian pastries, cakes and savouries at the Pasticceria Papa stall. They had cannoli, their famous ricotta cake (which I vow to try next time), gorgeous looking thin squares of pizza, arancini the size of which I’d never seen before, sandwiches, biscuits and god knows what else. As there were still more salty snacks to try, we decided either to return at the end or, if not, to join the ever-lengthening queue for gelato at an as-yet-unopened gelataria.

We considered tasting some wine at Haberfield Cellars, but found ourselves drifting straight past to the stall at La Disfida. This stall would definitely win the award for the most varied and interesting looking food, it’s was actually really hard to decide what to eat; there was amazing looking orecchiette, eggplant involtini, Panuzzi, arancini with mushroom, rocket and truffle, peperoni pizza, and, something I wish I’d had room for, Italian doughnuts. We opted to share a slice of margherita pizza, cheeseless but to die for. The tomato was rich and balanced, the crust perfectly cooked, with just enough herbs and olive oil to finish it off.

Next up was the Paesanella Cheese Shop which makes its own cheeses. They were selling three kinds of bruscheta; fresco and rocket, buffalo caprese, and a blue cheese and marscapone mix. They were also selling bocconcini ‘lollipops’ wrapped in prosciutto. The stall was such a simple idea but it was so effective in showing off Paesanella’s range of freshly-made cheeses. We grabbed a fresco and a caprese to share, the fresco was pan fried and salty with fresh crusty bread, offset by the peppery rocket and a dash of vinegar, while the buffalo mozzarella had a fresh, clean but still salty flavour. The tomatoes used were perfectly ripe.

We finished things off with a ricotta canolli from the aforementioned Pasticceria Papa. It had an amazing crunch to it was disappointingly bland in flavour. Sicilian olives in hand we headed for home, satisfyingly filled and pretty impressed at what Haberfield Primavera had to offer. I will definitely return next year.

When it comes to food, do you suffer from the paradox of choice?

There was no doubt, NO DOUBT in my mind what my first (and second and third) stops would be after touching down in Sydney. They were, in no particular order, coffee, coffee and COFFEE. Senhor R couldn’t agree with me more as, although it was relatively easy to hunt out decent coffee in Brasil, coffee in Argentina, which was where we spent the bulk of our trip, left something to be desired.

Actually, if I’m honest, coffee was my first stop before we even got to Sydney. We were salivating for Allpress Espresso at Auckland airport, having solemnly downed out ‘last real coffee’ there on our way to South America. When we got to Auckland, I downed my mach and could not stop grinning, in spite of the 14 hour, Aerolineas Argentinas hell I had just endured. Real. Coffee.

The second stop after dropping off our bags in Sydney was Don Campos nearby. The next morning, we were already on the hunt for somewhere new to try. After catching up on my blogroll I saw John over at He Needs Food had some good things to say about Belljar Espresso in Newtown, so we set off for Alice street.

On our way we couldn’t resist making our third coffee stop at The Kick Inside, Erskineville which was in the process of renovating so they were only doing takeaways. Senhor R was super happy with his piccolo and, suitably refuelled we continued on our coffee safari. Having wandered through Newtown a while, we arrived at Belljar coffee. It has a similar aesthetic to places like Miss Petty Cash and the aforementioned Kick Inside – knick knacks, bric-a-brac and retro furniture, classic espresso-coloured crockery offset by vintage teaspoons. It’s an all too familiar template, yet one I never tire of.

Hipster aesthetic aside, how was the coffee? Pretty good. They use Little Marrionette, which I think is overhyped, but so be it, coffee is coffee. It’s a cool place to kick back, they play vinyl from your parents’ collection, and the breakky menu looks good. I’ve been back once since and will most likely return.


Belljar Coffee
(02) 8096 4090
2/104 Alice Street
Newtown, 2042
www.belljar.com.au

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