Brickfields, 2013 SMH Good Cafe Guide Best Small Cafe

Congratulations to Brickfields, 2013 SMH Good Cafe Guide Best Small Cafe!

On the way to the city one Sunday morning, a small crowd caught my eye outside a tiny bakery and we decided to spontaneously make a stop. The cafe was Brickfields (206 Cleveland St, Chippendale) which in fact is a half a bakery by Luxe head baker, supplying bread to the likes of Cornersmith and half espresso bar by Mecca Espresso – with a collaboration like that you know it’s going to be great.

Though Brickfields appears to be in a very small space, they definitely make great use of it, making the cafe feel open and airy with hanging plants, large windows and a peek into the working bakery behind the counters. Even smarter use of the space are the industrial looking swivel stools which can be hidden under the counters. There are several large tables outside however, luckily for us it wasn’t too busy this particular morning and we grabbed a couple of counter seats by the large sacks of flour and grains.

You would expect great coffee by Mecca Espresso and Brickfields did not disappoint, the coffee was smooth and one of the creamiest I’ve had. Just a note ladies, they don’t offer skim milk, but they do have Bon Soy! They also serve carafes of homemade mint sodas and lemon sodas which most tables were enjoying. Bill likes to judge eateries based on how well their bacon roll is, and he didn’t have any complaints, bacon, lettuce, mayo sandwiched between a freshly baked roll. I opted for the Breakfast Plate which was as satisfying as it sounds, a piece of sourdough toast beneath layers of fried eggplant, tahini, a halved boiled egg perched on top with zhoug (a green paste made with spices and coriander) served with a wedge of lemon. The entire dish as a whole was so delicious from the zhoug to the zing of the lemon, I forsee many breakfast stopovers here just for the Breakfast Plate.

Brickfields

Breakfast Plate

Bacon Sandwich

Brickfields is located on Cleveland Street but it’s best to find parking around Balfour Street. The menu is quite limited but you won’t be disappointed by their freshly baked goods and if you don’t happen to grab a table just sit by the wooden planters under the trees with a take away croissant and coffee.

Brickfields on Urbanspoon

Three Blue Ducks

Treating ourselves and wanting some fresh air and sunshine before Autumn comes along, Bill and I took advantage of our Day in Lieu and made the drive to Bronte. Three Blue Ducks (141-143 Macpherson St, Bronte) led by former Tetsuya head chefs, has been on my list for a while for a brunch session after sampling their foods at The Paddington Markets, we hoped to beat the weekend crowds and visited on a Friday.We arrived there just in time for breakfast which ends at 1130am (lunch starts at 12pm so don’t get caught out in beween these times and starve) and were seated in the bar side of the cafe where we watched the bartender juice fresh fruits and admired the quirky teapots hanging on the wall. The menu was exciting and initially I had my eye on the Quinoa and fig bircher with caramelised peaches, fresh fruit, yoghurt and toasted nuts but sadly they were already sold out. We started the morning right with an organic latte, fair trade and roasted by Single Origin Roasters for me and a freshย  and instead opted for a seemlingly simple bowl of bircher muesli with seasonal fruits. This was the perfect bowl of muesli, each spoonful was delicious, the crunch of apple slices, toasted nuts, berry compote, natural smooth greek yoghurt, sweet fig and the bursts of fresh passionfruit – so amazing and satisfying that Bill and I were fighting for each mouthful.
Three Blue Ducks
Needless to say the food was fresh and of a high quality making you feel good from the inside and absolutely delicious. It may be because the produce used is local and as organic as can be. They even have a cute garden at the back (just keep walking down the corridor) making use of all the space.
After brunch we took a short stroll to Bronte beach which in turn led to a full on coastal walk from Bondi to Coogee and back to Bronte.

P.S Victorians, you can also get a piece of Three Blue Ducks gorgeous foods at Falls Creek XP

Three Blue Ducks on Urbanspoon

Sub Station 152 Cafe

As I browsed a friends Rise filtered sandwich lunch from Sub Station 152, I knew I had to make a trip on the weekend. Sub Station 152 Cafe (124 McEvoy St, Alexandria) opened on 3 September 2012 and from the outside appears to be a little nook, however it has transformed from previously being an electric substation into a cute little cafe complete with a narrow outdoor area and an annex featuring a vertical garden.

 
via @annieso
 
via @annieso

The menu here is simple with a range of sandwiches and salads and also the specials. On this occaision they were offering their signature Shakshuka dish, a traditional Israeli dish with 2 free range poached eggs cooked in chunky tomato sauce with grilled vegetables and a touch of chill and fresh herbs served in a shallow pan with a side of bread. Suprisingly this is a dish I'd definitely order however on that day I was after a Poached Chicken sandwiched assembled perfecty with the freshest ingredients while Bill had the simple and homey bacon and egg roll.

Sub-Station
 
 

Poached Chicken

Bacon and Egg roll
 

Everything about Sub Station 152 screams "cute" from the size of the cafe to the wooden spoon table numbers and the highlight would be getting some sunshine in the decked outdoor area. I just loved the atmosphere of having a very relaxed brunch here for a dose of Vitamin D.

Sub-Station Cafe on Urbanspoon

The Grounds of Alexandria

Springs here and there's no better time to make your way to the gardens at the old Four n Twenty pie factory Building 7A, No.2 Huntley St Alexandria, or better known as "The Grounds". Oh boy, this is a long overdue post having visited The Grounds of Alexandria (Building 7A, 2 Huntley St, Alexandria) when it first opened for breakfast and a few lunches after since April 2012.

Arriving what we thought early at 9am for breakfast, we still faced a 20min wait after adding our names to the clipboard. Not to worry, it presented a great opportunity to get a takeaway coffee (their coffee is amazing!) and wander, taking in The Grounds Garden, from the wishing fountain to the herb gardens. The outdoor seating area, available for venue hire made the wait enjoyable, and we could have easily had take away coffee and some sweet delights in the garden.
We were seated outside this time with the heaters to keep us warm and shades to keep the sun out, Bill had the Breakfast Board and I the Rolled eggs which the friendly waitstaff informed was quickly becoming their signature dish. Bill's a very happy chappy when the Breakfast Board arrives with an abundance of foods styled on a wooden board, a mountain of fine double smoked ham, perfectly sliced half avocado, Persian fetta, heirloom tomato salad, two poached eggs and housemade pesto on sourdough toast with the all-important side of bacon served crispy. It's easy to see why the rolled eggs were becoming their signature – a delicious, fresh and healthy dish using seasonal produce. My perfectly cooked rolled eggs oozing yellow, looked impressive balancing atop a tower of asparagus stalks, rocket leaves, watercress and oven roasted roma tomatoes. Though the truffle oil seemed non-existent, I loved the crispy quinoa giving the dish texture and a nuttiness to the dish, easily making this a favourite for me. Just a warning, as they do use seasonal produce their "garden herbs" added in this dish can change from rocket and watercress to coriander…which I learnt the hard way on my subsequent visit – I have issues with coriander so half the dish was inedible for me the next time ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

The Grounds of Alexandria
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Breakfast Board  double smoked ham, avocado, Persian fetta, heirloom tomato, two poached eggs and housemade pesto on sourdough toast
With side bacon served crispy ($4)
 
Rolled eggs with crispy quinoa, asparagus, roasted tomatoes, garden herbs w sourdough toast

Best coffee eveeerrrrr

Other notable lunch items we've tried are the Buffalo mozarella, heirloom tomatoes and hand picked basil salad which fresh and wholesome while Bill of course rated The Grounds Burger with a thick dry aged angus beef patty, cheese, tomato, pickles, mustard and a side of chunky chips.

It was during my most recent experience at The Grounds which has left me a little wary of the uber busy establishment. Unfortunately although the floor manager did a great job circulating the gardens and reassuring us that our names were indeed on the list and updating us on waiting times which definitely made us feel better, the service in house left us disappointed. Having waited an hour to be seated, we knew exactly what we were having and immediately ordered, however as many other tables received their food prior to us although they had ordered after us I inquired with the waitress who let us know briskly they were quite busy and there may be a wait for the food to arrive. Eventually 5mins after our food arrived cold leaving us quite sad and disappointed deciding it was definitely not worth the wait.   

Still my favourite place to get a coffee in Alexandria and though I am happy to grab take away, it may be a while again before I return to dine in. The Grounds is no doubt a great warm addition to the industrial Alexandria area, also with the introduction of The Grounds Markets held each last Saturday of the month. I absolutely loved the decor and appreciated the culture and the overall character of The Grounds.

The Grounds of Alexandria on Urbanspoon

Cowbell 808

Oops, apologies for my absence…it has been a while since I've been back from Canada…but I'm back with the new kid on the Surry Hills block.

Cowbell 808 (616 Bourke St Surry Hills) is a retro inspired cafe complete with hip hop graffiti feature wall, indoor basketball hoop, a counter behind a row of old school vinyl records and lego knick knacks…I think my 80's McDonald's happy meal toys will fit right in here. The kitchen is small but they make mostly everything on the premises, even smoking their bacon and the house blend Toby's Estate made for a delicious coffee. It took a while however our food eventually arrived on our vinyl table burnt with an iron. I had the Pork 'n' beans on toast, a mountain of white beans and hearty saucy pork with a nice kick of tabasco topped with grated provolone made for a perfect brunch on this winter's day. Bill naturally wanted to try the Cowbell 808 burger a ground beef pattie, lettuce, cheese, pickles and a side of onion rings. I loved the onion rings and wished we could have ordered a side of these to share! My friend had the Grilled Eggplant roll which we agreed was the tastiest dish of the day fried cauliflower, eggplant, hommus and mint on grilled flatbread.

If you're feeling adventurous and in the need of some comfort food you can't go past the Fat Stacked Hotcakes with marscapone, bacon ice cream and espresso syrup, which we're saving for next time!

Cowbell 808
 
 
Lismore spoon
 
turn around Mr Legohead
 
Cowbell 808 Burger
 
Pork 'n' Beans on Toast
 

With our bellies full, it was off to the 18th Biennale of Sydney to check out the exhibitions on Cockatoo Island. My favourites were the Hylozic Series: Sibyl and the Dune lights in the Dog Leg Tunnel while Bill enjoyed the Living Chasm a pure water fog.

Biennale of Sydney ends 16 Sept
 
The River
 
 
 
Domesticated Turf

Domesticated Turf
Industrial doillies made of sand

Cowbell 808 on Urbanspoon

Kitchen By Mike

The new warehouse canteen Kitchen by Mike (85 Dunnings Ave, Roseberry) was the light at the end of my working week – quite literally with it's high celiings and airy open space. It also provided the happiest moment of my Sunday when I snagged the last order of sourdough pancakes with lemon curd, it was just the dish to brighten my day.

The food at Kitchen by Mike is simple and unpretentious using the freshest produce sourced by Mike each morning, thus the menu changes daily and can be found at their Facebook page. We didn't know this when we headed there for brunch but were pleasantly surprised as we peered into the open kitchen and walked past the display of vibrant salads, rustic pizzas and freshly made juices and smoothies. We made our way through the queue and sat with our enamel tin plates at a communal table, grabbed our cutlery from an old can of tomatoes, taking in the rawness of the warehouse. Satisfied with our selection of a slice of Mike's freshly woodfired sourdough bread, fluffy and was delicious with a slather of PepeSaya butter and had us going back for a second serving. I let Bill enjoy his roasted pork belly with chutney which he found so good he would happily eat here each weekend, while I had a selection of a few of the salads on offer which were packed with flavour and well balanced.

I was keen to try the breakfasts here and I absolutely had to share Kitchen by Mike with someone else so brought the mother the following weekend, knowing she would also appreciate Koskela more than Bill did. It was noticeably more busy and my heart raced as I neared the register to order my breakfast, as I ordered the last sourdough pancakes and they crossed it off the specials board – sorry to anyone who was queueing behind me, I know my heart would sink. Mum had the baked chickpeas, chorizo with a egg which was perfection wobbly and gooey from being poached slowly for 30mins while we watched the open kitchen change from breakfast to lunch.

Kitchen By Mike
 
 
 
Freshly squeezed orange juice
 
 
Mike's woodfired sourdough bread with Pepesaya butter
 
Roast pork belly $12
 
Plum, walnut & blue cheese
Tomato, watermelon mint salad
Corn, lime & chilli salt
 
Sourdough pancakes with lemon curd
 
Baked chorizo, chickpeas with poached egg

Next door is Koskela which sells the enamel tin plates used a Kitchen by Mike and other Australian goods – we picked up some lovely smelling hand wash used in the bathrooms too as gifts for our relatives overseas. The staff are friendly and passionate, we both loved the open space, the simplicity of it all and the concept of using fresh and seasonal produce daily and we're trying to enjoy it as much as we can before the inevitable influx and appearance of beautiful people and hispters XP The food here can be a little pricey especially when you try and order a bit of each, but it is reflected in the freshness of ingredients and the quality of the dishes produced.

Kitchen By Mike on Urbanspoon

Reuben Hills

One thing I've learnt from full time work is that your weekends are sacred and to be celebrated. So last weekend we indulged in a very decadent late lunch at Reuben Hills (61 Albion Street, Surry Hills). Reuben Hills is a newly opened warehouse turned cafe and coffee roastry upstairs and a menu with a Latin American influence.

The menu looks deceivingly simple with a handful of items to choose from, but we've both never heard of many of the items! In the end I was swayed by the little blurb in the 'About' section of the menu and had a baleada – one of the most popular foods originating in Honduras. A warm, soft and thick wheat flour tortilla arrives generously filled with delicious black beans, free range eggs and a beautiful creamy, crumbly and soft queso fresco cheese. It's a little messy to eat but so friggin tasty it didn't matter. Unfortunately by the time we had lunch the Reuben, which Bill was so keen on, was sold out so instead he had the 99 Breakfast at Tiffany's. It was absolutely delicious, a tall burger with a brioche bun, chorizo and crispy onion, Bill proclaiming "all chorizo should be cooked like this". I was dying to try the Doggs Breakfast and it did not disappoint – an ice cream sandwich with a dollop of salted caramel (great balance of salty and sweet!!) which had me scraping the plate really hit the spot, while Bill got his fix from a creamy smooth and sweet Salted Caramel Milkshake.

The service was really friendly and everyone is genuinely nice! Reuben Hills also hold public coffee cuppings on Friday's each week for free and everyone is welcome. Unfortunately for us we probably won't make it to the coffee cuppings upstairs but Bill's eager to try their Reuben sandwich and I'm looking forward to trying their Black Sesame milkshake next time. Anyhoo it was definitely a great way to end our weekend!

Reuben Hills
 
 
Love love love the quirky bottles of water!
 
 
Free range eggs, queso fresco, black beans baleada
 
99 Breakfast at Tiffany's – Chorizo inside brioche bun w ranchero sauce & crispy onion
 
Salted Caramel Milkshake
 
Doggs Breakfast – Ice Cream Sandwich with salted caramel

Reuben Hills on Urbanspoon