“Sorry, I’m getting too excited,” George Choutis talks about his new venue like a kid who’s just finished his first self-designed Lego castle. Choutis and his wife Destiny have been involved with cafes and restaurants for decades, but Roastville is the first venue they’re really proud of. “George and I decided to sell up and follow our dream. What we really wanted to do was roast our own coffee.”
The duo has poured themselves into every aspect of the cafe’s design and operation. There are crosshatch timber tables made by Choutis’ and a cabinet brimming with colourful homemade cakes. The menu, which has been designed in collaboration with chef Rumil Binas and pastry maestro Libby Marriner, is produced almost entirely on site, the only exception being Brickfields sourdough and burger buns.
With items such as fried chicken waffles, a Reuben sandwich and dairy-free smoothies in jars, the menu reads like a list of Sydney’s biggest food trends. But the dishes themselves are less derivative and more innovative. Take the Reuben. While most cafes are clamouring for NY-style authenticity, Roastville has kept the corned beef and cheese, but substituted the sauerkraut and Russian dressing for roast potatoes, tomato chutney and wilted greens. The fried chicken waffles are made with a kimchi batter and avoid any sweet glazes, bacon or ice cream in favour of a slathering of parmesan, Sriracha and kewpie mayonnaise.
According to Choutis, the most popular order has been the green eggs: two 65°C eggs on a mash of different greens mixed together with sorrel cream.
Set in a large warehouse space, all the chipped-wood coverings, timber panels and much of the furniture was done by Choutis under the guidance of an old joiner mate he first hired as a kitchen hand more than 15 years ago.
The upstairs mezzanine, which is currently just offices, is slated to open to the public as a viewing station for the coffee cupping and roasting process, as well as for coffee workshops and seminars. The huge garage doors will open for weekend barbeques. “We'll probably do an afternoon thing. Ideally we'll have a spit in the back, get some tunes and create a bit of a vibe,” Destiny says.