Ron Chen is as man with a lot of ideas. He’s just opened a new cafe in Rhodes, Auvers, with business partner Leo Rong, but he wouldn’t call it that. “Auvers has three major pillars. One is cafe, one is art and one is ‘inspired’.” The first two are easy to explain by the venue’s day-to-day operation as both a cafe and a small art gallery and dealer. The third is more vague. Rong and Chen’s idea is: if each aspect of the cafe is creative, collaborative and interesting then their customers will be the same. “We think everyone is an artist and everything is art. Lifestyle is art. Our job is to inspire that,” says Chen.
The fit-out by Matt Woods (Rabbit Hole, Devon Barangaroo) straddles the boundary between industrial and corporate, giving the space a new-age-office feel, like what you’d imagine a Google or Atlassian space looks like. The coffee is done in collaboration with Enmore’s Black Market Roasters. “It's a partnership, we want to engage with them in the growing and roasting process. We want to grow together,” says Chen. The food is overseen by head chef Will Clintan (La Scala, Thomas Holt Roasters) and pastry chef Cindy Novita Khomala (ex-Aria Catering, Rockpool Bar and Grill) and is best defined by its prettiness and almost directionless multiculturalism. Matcha-and-red-bean pancakes made with a meringue dough for extra fluff take cues from China and Japan; chickpea fritters with picked beetroot and green hummus are a modern interpretation of falafel; the soft-shell-crab po’boy has a Thai mango dressing and kimchi.
“We want to bring more fine-dining elements to the cafe. It’s the trend, people want a chance to touch many cooking elements and techniques day to day.” Then there’s Clintan’s take on the cafe staples, granola is smoked and served on a peanut butter-and-banana mousse; and smashed avocado is mixed with sweet-corn miso and furikake (Japanese seasoning).
The coffee and food are served on Denise McDonald crockery, a sculptor whose wares are also on show with other local artists on the back wall of the cafe. “It's hard for artists to connect to people. There aren't many platforms, I want to connect people together,” says Chen.
2/42 Walker Street, Rhodes
(02) 8040 2403
Sun to Wed 7am–4pm
Thu to Sat 7am–8pm