Born out of Chicago in the early 20th century, the phrase “Kansas City Shuffle” refers to a gangster’s trick – a game of conning and misdirection. At this new cafe and soon-to-be bar space in The Rocks, there is far less deception afoot.
Devised by cafe and dining experts Benny Sweeten (previously Joe Black and Rose Bay Diner) and chef Kayne Mordini (of Melbourne’s Proud Mary), Kansas City Shuffle outdoes any standard cafe expectations.
Mordini’s menu includes an ice-cold acai smoothie bowl with house granola and coconut yoghurt. There’s a fried-chicken sandwich on a donut bun with slaw, pickles and jalapeno aioli, and Kansas City Shuffle-style beef brisket and waffles with smoked chilli butter and a poached egg.
Housed on the ground floor of the former Cadbury Chocolate factory, the space is divided in two. To the left of the building’s entryway is the cafe, to the right, a bar and function space is nearing completion. “We are fully licensed. Part of the plan was to create the space for functions, as well as being a bar,” adds Sweeten. The bar is due to open in February. In the meantime you can sip prosseco or rosé at lunch, or add a shot of Frangelico to your affogato for dessert.
Two takeaway windows open on to Gloucester Street and offer a full-spectrum coffee menu – white, black, filter, cold drip and magic styles (a Melbourne-style double ristretto topped with milk in a small, 150-mililitre cup), as well as a barista clairvoyant reading for $15.
Inside the cafe there is a curved bar built from recycled oak, a floating light sculpture and lime-coloured half-circle booths. Sweeten designed and built the interior with his brother, furniture designer Jimmy Sweeten.