A short stroll from Petersham railway station in Sydney’s Little Portugal, The Counter – owned by Mariella Traina (formerly of Leichhardt’s Froth Cafe and Balmain’s True Religion Espresso Bar) – stands out from its neighbours to say the least. Distorted metal chairs and a red ladder with hanging pot plants punctuate duck egg blue walls; ferns in petite vases decorate tables; and buckets of fresh vegetables fill the base of an open brick fireplace. Outside, stacked wooden pallets form tables surrounded by colourful stools.
The centrepiece here is the counter (obviously), with a striking brick façade. It’s equipped with a vibrant open kitchen and a cabinet filled with Luxe bread sandwiches and sweets such as a house-made beetroot brownie and a chai-poached pear and caramel tart. The clipboard menu features an all-day breakfast of smashed avocado with Danish feta topped with two poached eggs and wild mushrooms on toasted brioche with crisp prosciutto, poached egg and salted ricotta. Sweeter options include hotcakes with stewed rhubarb, berries, spiced mascarpone and pistachio.
Coffee here is a specially roasted blend by Marrickville’s Coffee Alchemy, boasting subtle tones of chocolate and caramel. In the afternoon, indulge in specials like house-made bread and butter pudding served with pistachio praline, mascerated strawberries and crème anglaise.