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Breakfast

It’s always sunny in Sydney, or at least that’s what the tourists are being sold before arriving to find they’ve been scammed by the weather gods in a good ol’ bait’n’switch. The incessant rain seems to have turned the world upside down and we’ve now all mastered the ability to look out at the horizon with our best “I smell something bad” expression.

Saturday morning brunch saw Aidan and I powering through another downpour and side stepping puddle-traps to reach the newly launched foodstore by the Chris Starke (ex Marque and the infamous Banc) who also runs Youeni Providores around the corner. The new cafe/eatery is cleverly positioned into the apex of number 8, enlivening a previously spartan space into a buzz of diners sharing blankets and table space.

We’re greeted by the crew and start off with a pot of soy chai and a bulging coffee (Ky’s description, not mine). Since the upside of bad weather is being able to dig in to hearty winter fare, we commit ourselves to the seasonal soup and the slow cooked beef cheeks.


Seasonal soup, toast, olive oil $10

The soup that afternoon was a combination of butter potatoes, kale, spinach and a giant pepper hit, finished off with a bit of olive oil, caramelised onions and a side of Sonoma toast. I felt I had OD’ed on pepper by the end but I noticed my body temperature had risen a few notches too.


Beef cheek, blacked caramalised onions, pomme puree, green salad $14

The beef cheeks were exclamation worthy – which explained why they were recommended with a satisfied grin. A soft smear and scoop of the fork produced a warming mouthful of beef and potato puree whilst a side of pea tendrils, blacked caramelised onions and cottage cheese gave the overall dish a nice crisp balance.

Far from a lack of ingenuity I felt the repeat use of key ingredients such as the pea tendrils and caralised onions served to only highlight a smart kitchen working with what’s in season and what they have at hand. And although the food was warming, it never veered into the “heavy” category.


Citrus curd tart $5

Pausing slightly after out meal, I eyed the baked treats paraded on the counter and eeny meeny miny mo-ed my way to a final citrus curd tart (we reasoned it must be easier to digest than the salted caramel chocolate option) with admirably short pastry.

Despite the slight mumble of chaos on their launch day, the passion the crew felt for food was tangible. They’re also keeping everything in the family and will have launched their own coffee blend by now, roasted by their friends down in Wollongong. They’re also planning to start baking their own bread and once licences and such are processed – open for dinner with a set menu focusing on the best produce of the moment.

As we waved goodbye, we shook hands with the crew and promised to see each other soon. Sometimes good things can happen in the rain.

4

The Verdict
Youeni Foodstore really works as a complimentary outfit to the providore – pushing their core belief in local organic produce and promoting food knowledge. The short menu provides enough variance to keep everyone intrigued whilst focusing on maximising in-season ingredients. If you make it in time for the breakfast hours then treat yourself to some slow cooked scrambled eggs or perhaps a caramalised ham and stewed apple sandwich for lunch and pop a tart in your pocket for later.

Youeni Foodstore
a. Shop 3, 8 Hill St, Surry Hills
t. 9380 7575
w. youeni.com + surryhills.youeni.com/

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Squinting at the copy on their site, all I could infer from the curt paragraphs were that Reuben Hills opens on the 1st and they do “Public Coffee Cupping”. Drop those three words in a sentence and I’m sure the next person thinks you’re referring to something rather questionable; Wikipedia however steps in and stops my imagination from swooping too close to the gutter by defining a Coffee Cupping as an experience whereby groups can “observe the tastes and aromas of coffee …[via] sniffing and slurping to measure aspects of the coffee’s taste (body, acidity, flavour and aftertaste).”

Unfortunately a last-minute meeting means I have to forgo the PCC but we manage to turn up on an overcast Sunday for a late brunch instead. As I walk past the front, two guys sipping macchiatos were talking about Baxter Inn in an awestruck drawl; inside revealed a long space with fluorescents-as-art, polished concrete floor, graffiti, revealed brick work, wooden school chairs and young men in cloth slip-ons who enjoy protein powder with their caffeine hit. It’s a hipster’s paradise.

I gingerly sit down on a rusty-metal-beam-cum-bench and ask around before a customer points to the counter and advises I get my name onto a waiting list.

It’s not long before the manager signals that I’m able to sit at a table and my two companions drift in. The guys here are serious about their coffee and it seeps through every level of the operation: from roasting their own beans on site to designing an origin inspired menu.


$3.50 Cappuccino

Despite the muggy weather I start off with a coffee whilst Dan opts for a peculiar “chocolate and ginger” milkshake.


Salted Caramel milkshake $6.50

Plonk! A metal cup of frothy goodness arrives but one sip and we realise it’s salted caramel (which isn’t listed on the menu) but Dan seems pleased with the taste and we don’t have the patience to wave down a staff member and opt to keep this delicious orphan cupful instead.


Baleada: Pimento pork, chimol, crispy onions $9

The food items available are a mix of South & North American fare, with a breakfast trifle sitting side by side with a listing of baked beef empanadas. The big seller here it seems are the baleadas: described as a Honduras flour tortilla stuffed with goodies and in this instance the goodies are hunks of pulled pork and salsa which I polish off in a jiffy.


Flat white with a shot of premium espresso $5 + Baked eggs with shaved Jamon, steamed spinach, Ranchero sauce and Schiacciata $13

The menu also lists a changing premium espresso for under $5 which we request to be served with milk as a flat white. The cup arrives and looks deceptively common but revealed a complex yet smooth earthy mouthful, I was shocked that this little shot had it all: brains and a good body.

The pleasant surprises endure as moments later two ceramic bowls arrived, each with a perfectly toasted finger of bread sharing plate space with a couple of quivering baked eggs shuddering under the weight of the Jamon and spinach. We pop the yolks and watches as it glides and pools before mopping it up with the crusty Schiacciata.


Doggs Breakfast: Ice cream ‘sandwich’ with salted caramel $8

No gluttonous foray of ours is complete without a sweet ending and so I urge my companions on with an order of the cheeky ‘Doggs Breakfast’. It took some effort to find a waiter willing to stop and take our order (the first saw my waving hand, raised an eyebrow and kept walking) but soon before us, a square of cake and ice cream stands upright on our prison plate in a luxurious puddle of dense salted caramel.

We ‘oo’ and ‘ah’ over that thick sauce and roll the remaining cake crumbs through the orange slick before licking our spoons clean. As we move to pay and leave we received no smile or pleasantries, disappointed by the coldness of the well dressed crew we shuffle out. At least our stomachs were smiling.

Three out of five

The Verdict
A unique offering of identity rich food and coffee which would satisfy the most picky of caffeine connoisseurs. The coffee is roasted on-site and created with a lot of shiny gadgetry whilst the food is cooked by a graduate of Heston Blumenthal’s kitchen. Service was cool and indifferent although perhaps we caught them all on a bad day; the crowd can be dense with hipsters but it’s worth enduring for a beautiful feed.

Reuben Hills
a. 61 Albion St Surry Hills
t. 9211 5556
w. reubenhills.com.au

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My friends sometimes ask how I can afford to eat out as much as I do since it appears like every meal’s a hatted multi-course magic ride into the culinary clouds (okay those are my words not theirs) and the creative profession is rarely a well-paid one. The thing is there’s no secret oil tycoon fiance; sometimes good things come in cheap packages, you just have to know where to find them.


Latte $3.30

Wilbur’s place sounds like a jolly place to chill out with your porcine host but in actuality is a new little eatery from the guys at Bourke Street Bakery. The other up side is the prices seem to be from the 90’s with the most expensive item a dinner plate of duck leg, roasted plums with vino cotto which would still return you a gold coin’s change from a 20 note.

This concept seems to hit all angles of the magical triangle (good, fast, cheap) and I’m so keen to visit I blab on about this place for weeks. Upon their reopening for the new year, three of us rock up for a long lunch at this alleyway digs.


Seranno ham, grapefruit and fennel salad $12

We settle in with some coffees on the outdoor table and start with the Serrano ham, grapefruit and fennel salad. The combination sounded intriguing and light: the ham and grapefruit added nice touches of salt and bitterness to the salad. Strangely though the fennel was limp and quite sugary and acidic.


Cappucino $3.30


Complimentary Duck liver parfait, toast & cornichons (Normally $12)

Our lovable waiter Ben approaches us with a surprise: a complimentary dish of duck liver parfait for us to nibble on, it’s buttery smooth and we pull sad faces when we run out of brioche.


White anchovy, cucumber, celery, croutons $12

White anchovy, cucumber, celery, croutons was our second choice: another interesting combination. Sadly this too tasted overwhelmingly like apple vinegar and we asked Ben to check for us. He returns and advises the kitchen only adds salt, pepper, olive oil and a squeeze of lemon to the salad but there’s no fresh lemon zing and the sugary limpness of the celery betrays an overwhelming acidic taste. Cathy notes the kitchen may have pre-dressed the celery and fennel in apple vinegar in the morning and accidentally macerated the vegetables resulting in an overpowering sweetness.


Porchetta plate, white beans and bread $14

I’ve been looking forward to the porchetta plate for quite some time, which time-poor locals can get in a roll for only $8 a pop. We food tourists though have all the time to languish in the sun and slowly devour the pork with beans and sourdough. The meat is quite tender and doused with rosemary, with a streak of fat running through, on a bed of jus which we mop up. Midway through Cathy pulled a piece of trussing string from her portion and we’re also disappointed to note that the beans haven’t been cooked enough and are quite hard on the inside; the jus itself was also a bit sticky from being over-reduced.

We manage to finish most of our food though and remain optimistic about dessert. The ice cream for the brioche sandwich is made by the staff and the sound of a meringue covered flourless chocolate sponge seems intriguing but Ben tells us his absolute favourite is the custard tart. We’re still wondering what to order when he arrives with the tart in question and places it before us.


Complimentary Custard tart (Normally $12)

We dig in and sigh over the delectably smooth custard blanketed with a generous amount of nutmeg. Dessert’s over in seconds and we each leave having spent well under $20 each. We wave goodbye to Ben and Paul and waddle off down the alleyway: our hip pockets barely lightened but stomachs well full.

The Verdict
Have you ever bumped into two siblings* and noticed one got a lot luckier with the gene pool lotto? The Bourke Street crew have baking down pat and the menu at their new sister restaurant is simple but imaginative, so it’s quite sad to see poor execution letting everyone down. The service is affable and the prices are very kind to all and sundry; I’ve just got my fingers crossed that the kitchen simply has the start-up jitters and will soon develop into a well-oiled machine by the time I return for that duck and perhaps some ocean trout fingers.

*This is a metaphor and is not in reference to any persons living or dead.

Wilbur’s Place
a. 36 Llankelly Place, Kings Cross
t. 9332 2999
e. info(at)wilbursplace.com
w. www.wilbursplace.com

Wilbur's Place on Urbanspoon

He stared into my eyes as he spoke, his mouth suddenly started to form those familiar shapes and my heart faltered for a moment, pausing to hear those three magical words out loud.

All. Day. Breakfast.

Seriously though what’s with cafe’s trying to offer you lunch when it’s pretty obvious there are bacon shaped silhouettes in our eyes as we sit down: luckily the folks at Revolver have cottoned on to this or most likely they’re all weekend breakie types too.

A large group of us had gathered outside late one afternoon: we were in town for a wedding at the beautiful Hunter Baille Memorial Church and hoped to snag a table to while away the hours between the ceremony and reception. Since we arrived so late the heritage ex-corner store was a little less frantic and us food tourists were able to squeeze in without much of a wait.


Strawberry frappe $5.50 + Iced Coffee $5.50

The interior is an eclectic mish-mash of graffiti art, bar stools, kitchen tables, a wooden divider and a marble bench top laden with baked goodies piled onto cake stands. The big decorative draw card here though are the tea cups, with everyone I know who’ve visited Revolver gushing over the vintage porcelain beauties.


Mango frappe $5.50

We’re told their frappes aren’t simply a few pieces of fruit thrown in with ice but whole fruits frozen and then blended (take note a certain popular chocolate chain store who happens to make frappes out of ice and Cottee’s cordial), the result is liquid gold and probably takes your daily fruit intake up to 7.


Top: Scrambled eggs, roast tomato, avocado & Danish fetta & toast $14.50
Bottom: Small fresh house squeezed orange juice $3.50


Revolver Vegie Breakie: two baked eggs in house-made beans, buttered mushrooms, roast tomato, avocado, Danish fetta, hummus & toast $16.50 with extra bacon $4.00

Everyone’s here for the big breakie with possibly every hot breakfast item imaginable stirred through together in a delicious tomato covered orgy and topped with a beautiful sneeze of parsley.


Ricotta hotcakes with berry compote & maple ricotta $14.50

Another crowd pleaser were the hotcakes, slightly crispy on the outside smothered in a generous amount of fruit compote on cute-as-pie granny plates.


Revolver big breakie: two eggs baked in our house-made beans, honey cured bacon, roast tomato, mushrooms, pork fennel sausage & toast $16.50


Special: Crushed Kipfler potato with organic Chorizo, scrambled eggs and roast tomato relish $16.50
with extra bacon $4

However the biggest fan favourite of all was the special of the day, a promising concoction of potato, Chorizo and egg: all the foods Fiona’s picky husband adores.


Small house made spiced Chai $4.00

As the hoard dug into our feast we all mumbled affirmations in between busy mouthfuls of soft Chorizo, egg and bacon, sweet berries and toasted sourdough. It’s not always easy to say but Revolver breakfast:

I. Love. You.

Three out of five

The Verdict
It’s no secret this down to earth cafe is a local favourite with a seemingly small crowd of hungry fans permanently stationed outside. The non-descript location evokes an easy going country town vibe with dishes portioned using a generous hand. If you manage to swing by don’t miss out on ordering the house big breakie and a coffee, organic tea or frappe to wash it all down. An unfortunate downside is that service is not always consistent, with a warm manager welcoming you in but lacking follow through. Three of us were overcharged for our meals and it took some sleuthing to realise we were given (and charged) for bacon despite never asking for any extras. However disregarding these niggling aspects, the food is an innocent and has done no wrong. You’d also be hard pressed to find a local who doesn’t love Revolver; after all love is kind, it keeps no record of wrongs so can this be love?

Revolver
a. 291 Annandale St Annandale
t. 9555 4727
w. www.revolver.com.au

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