When you visit Roomie Cafe, take a seat at Big Foot, a huge, sanded communal table named for its cylindrical wood legs that are almost as wide around as a baby elephant’s.
The small space on the ground floor of a sculptural apartment building is remarkable. Eva Kryazheva and her husband, co-owner Alexander Kashin, built everything in the cafe in the space of three months.
“We had four hands and not much of a budget, so we put together whatever we had.” It sounds haphazard, but since Kashin is also a furniture designer, whatever they had lying around was actually very high quality.
The design is pared back and modern. Oak tripod stools with brass hardware sit around Big Foot; cabinetry is graceful, functional and minimal; a mountainscape painting by 2009 Archibald Prize-winning artist Guy Maestri (whose Marrickville studio neighbours Kashin’s) hangs on the wall.
Originally from Siberia, Kryazheva and Kashin have put some classic recipes from their childhoods next to the usual Australian cafe fare.
“I came from a family where my mum would always cook and now I call her in Siberia to talk about recipes.” Syrniki (hot cakes) made with ricotta and fried, served with berries, are a childhood favourite. There’s also a roast-duck baguette with red cabbage and manchego.
They have plans to add a beef-tongue dish and beetroot soup, but for now, “we don’t want to shock people” says Kryazheva.
Bread and pastries are more familiar. The camembert toastie is made with Brickfields bread; it also supplies its trademark black-sesame cookies, which sit like dark, icing-sugar-dusted snowballs in the pastry display.
Coffee is by Mecca. Kryazheva has worked in hospitality since she moved to Sydney six years ago and she’s a Mecca loyalist. “There was no question who to go with.” Espresso is available, as well as filter coffee and batch brews. For summer Roomie is serving iced brews and cold filters, as well as a fruity, herbal iced tea with fruits and mint.
50 Waverly Street, Bondi Junction
(02) 8540 4584
Mon to Sat 7am–3pm