It only takes one or two businesses to draw out the community on a previously quiet high street. New Canterbury Road, at the border between Dulwich Hill and Hurlstone Park, has Skein Sisters wool shop, a treasure-filled Salvos and now also Queenside Cafe.
“I think a lot of suburbs have approached saturation when it comes to cafes,” says Queenside owner Jim Papadakis. “I wanted to be somewhere people are happy you opened, rather than sighing that there’s yet another coffee shop.”
You’ll be hard pressed to find someone who talks as passionately about chess as Papadakis also does about coffee. He hosts weekly chess nights at Queenside that for now are invite only, but if the locals respond well, he hopes to have a food and drink offering to accompany the games nights.
For Papadakis, Queenside’s menu is a love letter to chess. Each dish is named after a favourite chess master, a particular game strategy or chess inside joke.
Try the Fiona, a vegetarian tartine named after Luxembourg chess master Fiona Steil-Antoni. Served on a sweet-potato sourdough, which has a texture slightly softer than the normally chewy bread, it’s delicious and exquisitely presented. Curls of carrot and pickled beetroot sit atop a bed of avocado and tangy chunks of goat’s cheese. Yuzu-infused sesame seeds and coriander finish the dish.
There are also dishes named after grandmaster David Smerdon (whose signature play is the Scandinavian defence), such as Smurfo’s Scandi granola. It’s made with chunks of maple and honey spiced quinoa flakes topped with pieces of poached quince and rhubarb, and finished with coconut yoghurt.
Before opening Queenside, Papadakis did the rounds roasting coffee for Campos and Little Marionette. He now roasts his own for Queenside under the brand name Wanderlust Workshop. He’s a big believer in blends. “There are so many great roasters in Sydney, and I love them all, but with single origins, everyone is sourcing beans from the same regions and the coffees end up having a similar flavour. With a tailored coffee, you can achieve a unique character.”
He’s also got kombucha. Made by a small, new, local producer called Babybud, it’s clear, balanced and made without any extra flavourings.
Chess references aren’t just on the menu. In the small, minimal space – which features a polished-concrete floor and blond-timber furniture – is a tiled wall of matte black geometric shapes reminiscent of chess pieces.
The word “queenside” also refers to a chess play. “It’s the part of the board [the left-hand side] where it’s more risky to play,” Papadakis says. “We were opening in an area where there’s nothing else; it felt like a gamble. We embraced it and took a risk.”
Mon to Fri 7am–4pm
This article first appeared on Broadsheet on July 24, 2018. Menu items may have changed since publication.