There is nothing more appealing than eating and getting all cosy with a single origin roasted coffee when the rain keeps falling and the weather turns against us. Sydney is in the grip of not only rain, but an plethora of imaginative, local produce driven, down to earth eateries and chef/owner operators who treat you like they want you to come back!!! Where are they you ask? Well I’ll tell you in a minute.
Since I have a day off during the week. I most often pop out and have lunch on my own. So my thought is…. do you sometimes just want to pop into somewhere but feel strange on your own?. I’ll give you an idea of the feel the day ( or night )I ate there. A comfort rating?……go it alone?
Lets start with: Youeni Foodstore has moved to Castle Hill
Youeni Foodstore is a couple of weeks young. Don’t be surprised by the almost fully outdoor location. I first read about this cafe on one of my favourite blogs www.theunbrearablelightnessofbeinghungry.com. After reading it I was there within hours. It is in a very hidden location and having arrived it’s like discovering a little secret.
They have thoughtfully supplied both blankets and the incredible warmth and friendliness of their service. I stood at the counter not quite knowing how it worked and they apologised for neglecting me, sat me at a table, gave me a blanket and asked what kind of food or drink I felt like………I felt at ease and included , an all too rare experience. I feel part of their secret now and I want to go back!. Chris Starke owner/chef is no stranger to good produce or cooking, having passed through the kitchens at Marque Restaurant. It was hard to choose from the small concise menu as it all sounded delicious. Beef Brisket with caramelised onions, pomme puree and green salad ($14), was tempting, and fresh as a daisy salads are always on my list but on such a cold afternoon I went for Sweet Potato and Beetroot soup with toasted Sonoma bread $9 ish with a gorgeous coffee. They roast their own coffee ( not on the premises-it’s too small). Plans are to open at night. I look forward to this. Delicious wonderful and very comfortable even alone.
Cornersmith Cafe Marrickville
With all the talk about Cornersmith , I am not sure what I imagined, but it is a simple room with a simple philosophy, freshness and sustainability. This means making as much as they possibly can on the premises. The kitchen is basic and the casually clad staff pile plates with gorgeous salads and well cooked eggs, that contain sides of their own preserves and relishes. Shelves are stocked with jars of these goodies along with a wonderful ( Cornersmith) Lemon Worcestershire sauce. ( mostly all $10.00).
The food is seasonal, so the menu is not large and there are a lot of the same vegetables used on a variety of things. I really like this but if you are not into the fresh and crunchy perhaps this is not your cafe. Honey comes from a hive on the roof and they offer contras on home grown items such as rosemary and rose hips ( Note, if you have a bumper crop of something you’ve grown…….you could exchange it for breakfast)
Initially I was unsure if it was counter or table service there seemed to be people every where. After trying to catch someone’s eye I just grabbed an empty table ( the last) , just before another wave of people arrived. Once sitting in this vantage point I was able to assess the place…..nope…. still no idea. I studied the blackboard with squinty eyes and this odd one eyed , near blind head cocked left type of stance got me noticed and I was offered the chance to order a coffee. By this time there were people waiting for tables and as, I was on my own I vacated in favour of a window stool, affording a view of two dogs and the African restaurant across the road ( oh come on.. you know Marrickville is no Riviera). Once in the corner I felt like I had more time to squint at the blackboard and as I love salads and all things fresh I found it hard to decide.
Free range poached eggs with beetroot and ginger relish & sour dough $9. sides $ 5 : Braised carraway fennel with parsley and almonds. Pasture raised ham garlic mushrooms, brussel sprouts, lentils and pecorino or maybe a sandwhich of two cheeses and pickled choko $8 or add pasture raised ham $12 try poached eggs, pr ham, fennel and brussel slaw, garlic aioli and beetroot relish $12 or just maybe you’d like a lunch platter……..an idea that I am sure will be copied in every corner of Sydney soon. There is no way however that they will be done in the same way. A platter : Single $18 or share $30… Sumac Lamb, beet and feta salad, caraway labneh, pickled brussels and fruit. Perhaps the Combo platter $16/28. Sardines, fennel, brussel slaw, mushrooms, baked ricotta and pickled choko. It all sounds great to me.
I had garlic mushrooms, lentils, brussel sprouts and purple cabbage slaw and pecorino. It came a little oddly with toasted Brasserie Bread. Truly, I would have killed for a dob of labneh or feta or even aioli… however I didn’t leave even a single lentil on my plate.
The coffee was good but lumber jack cake was a bit heavy for me. The counter is full of nice looking cakes and slices including a chilli chocolate brownie (should have gone there). I was excited by the site of my tea arriving in a pot but alas a tea bag had been momentarily dipped into the water and discarded making the tea pot almost irrelevant. ( Wish they had Rabbit Hole Tea) Still, I love that this cafe is in Marrickville.
I will return, cause the food was great ….was it comfortable alone?. Yes, but I did feel almost invisible. They were busy, but there wasnt too much love.
The babies waiting outside