The moment young-gun chef Alex Kearns laid eyes on a secret garden cafe hidden among the terraces in Paddington, he knew where his latest venture would be.

“I took one look and knew I had to give it a shot,” he says of the unusual location, which can be accessed down a path of Balinese-style gardens.

“It’s an oasis in the city. Some locals will come multiple times a day; they treat it as their lounge room.”

The peaceful, leafy entry feels as though you are being led to a retreat in the tropics, an illusion you could easily sustain in the fresh, open dining room filled with thriving plants. A retractable roof can be fully opened in fine weather to make the space alfresco.

Kearns Food at the Bonython opened for business three weeks ago. The name Bonython alludes to a famous Paddington art collector and has been kept on from the previous cafe.

Many would know Kearns as the executive chef at Glebe Point Diner and through his own catering brand, Kearns Food. More casual than his Glebe favourite, Kearns’ latest venture offers what he describes as classic, Sydney-style cafe food.

Get our pick of the best news, features and events delivered twice a week

“I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel. I just want to do the basics properly,” he says.

Well-executed all-day breakfast items include a warming bowl of porridge topped with prunes and banana; an acai bowl with fresh fruits, coconut and granola; and a triple-cheese omelette.

A selection of salads and hot sandwiches starts at 11am, from the carb-light Green Goddess salad bowl, combining poached chicken, freekeh, cucumber, mint and lime, to a hearty cheeseburger filled with Blackmore Wagyu. Single Origin Roasters coffee is brewed with care, as is the loose-leaf chai latte.

Kearns Food at the Bonython
120B Underwood Street, Paddington
(02) 9397 1472

Mon to Sun 8am–4pm