When we wrote the best restaurants of 2017, we started with a shortlist of 21 venues. When it came to choosing the year’s best cafes it was a lot easier. There have been a lot of openings this year but few cafes have really pushed the boundaries and provided something new. These are the five that impressed.
Takeaway coffee in the CBD sure has changed. A few years ago it was hard to get a decent espresso but now, at Regiment, you can get an expertly brewed Five Senses cup of joe, an exceptional filter coffee made instantly (it’s got all the gadgets), kombucha on tap, Mörk hot chocolate, sodas with organic ingredients, and takeaway salads and bagels that wouldn’t be out of place on a good restaurant menu.
The Grounds of the City
Walking into the Grounds of the City is like walking into a theme park. One minute you’re in the middle of a bustling business district and the next you’re inside an incredible recreation of a luxurious 1920s train carriage. Sit down, enjoy the backdrop of antique crockery, coffee equipment and tinny jazz. Chat to the coffee sommelier, order a plate of poke, steak or even a dashi oyster. Once you think it’s all over, a trolley stacked with pastries will appear at the side of your table. Go on.
Paris-Brests with pecan pie filling, takeaway tiramisus, miniature cakes topped with torched swirls of meringue, flowers and chocolate crumbles, and sundaes with everything. Andy Bowdy is back. He’s also, for the first time in his life, running his own kitchen, which for us means some playful savoury dishes like corn pudding and breakfast rice. Coffee is with beans from Artificer.
The previous owners of Orto Trading Co and Baffi and Mo return with a cute laneway cafe in the old Wilmer and Wilbur’s Place spot in Llankelly Place. Rather like the two venues before it, the philosophy is around simplicity and accessibility. On the menu that translates to croque madames with duck eggs, and poke with mixed grains, edamame and shaved veggies.
One thing you should do this year is try Drury Lane’s pecan sticky bun. Imagine a perfectly crunchy, fluffy and layered cinnamon scroll but without the cinnamon dust, and add layers of gooey, salted caramel. The creator is Alistair Wise, a pastry chef who, until a few months ago, was based in Hobart. Now his acclaimed pastries are available in a mini patisserie hidden above Brewtown Newtown, a space that also doubles up as Brewtown’s specialty coffee brew bar.
Audience pick: Koi Dessert Bar
News of Reynold Poernomo’s new cafe-slash-dessert bar in Ryde was one of our most read stories of the year.