Not all couples can work together, let alone go into business together. But for pastry chef Freja Rasmussen and chef Nathan Dunnell (previously of Stokehouse Q) shared passions and a complementary skillset make it work.
Both knew early on that working in dining was something they wanted to do. Dunnell did his chef’s apprenticeship while studying business at university. And when semi-professional tennis player Rasmussen put away her racquet, a career in hospitality was her first choice.
Freja’s is a cosy nook with courtyard seating and lots of greenery. All the woodwork – including the whitewood counter and outdoor bench seating – was made by Dunnell and his father. The decorating was left to Rasmussen. You might assume the clean minimalist aesthetic and Scandi colours are a nod to Rasmussen’s Danish roots, but she swears it’s unintentional.
Quality is the driver behind the menu, and it shows. “If it’s something that we wouldn’t go and pay for, then we won’t serve it [ourselves],” Dunnell says. Everything is locally sourced except the pastry for the croissants, which is flown in from France. “If we have to buy it from outside here, then we’re getting the highest quality.”
The menu polishes typical brunch fare to a rarefied restaurant shine. Take the avo on toast, which is served with saltbush, goat’s cheese, tomato chutney and spiced ‘nduja. Other highlights include the beef-cheek croissant with macaroni, fried egg, green tomato and lime aioli. And the sautéed field mushrooms with potato rosti, asparagus, poached eggs and wild-rice crumble.
Coffee is from Manly Vale roastery Seven Miles’ micro-operation in Newstead. There are two blends as well as a rotating single-origin option.