Mecca’s influence on Sydney is ever-growing. The latest area to feel its touch is Pagewood, this time in the form of a simple sandwich shop. Panivore is a project from Mecca coffee guns Bettina Kurth and Tri Dharmawan and Mecca’s director Sam Sgambellone. Kurth, a long time barista, makes the store’s sandwiches. “Simplicity is our thing. You don’t need to dress it up to be a good product,” she says.
All of their sandwiches follow the same principle, a fresh banh mi-inspired base of tomato, lettuce, cucumber and homemade pickles, a choose-your-own protein filling and two fluffy slices of Lux’s rye sourdough. The fillings range from rare roast beef and poached chicken to Indonesian tofu and tempe, chicken schnitzel or a juicy slab of Germanic meatloaf. "Meatloaf is like a working-class staple. It's very simple; mixed veal and pork mince with a lot of spices and TLC,” says Kurth.
Panivore was running an unofficial weekly sandwich special but the changeover rate has stalled due to the overwhelming popularity of their last special, the like-a-burger, which packs all the ingredients of a cheeseburger into two slices of soft rye. Another contender that may make the switch-to-menu-immortality is Kurth’s slow cooked beef brisket with red cabbage in a toasted white bun.
Originally the trio wanted to only do sandwiches but like almost every new hospitality concept, it evolved as it went. In the morning there’s the addition of granola with berries, yoghurt and stewed rhubarb or a spruced-up bacon and egg roll with kale and a poached egg. For lunch there’s a rotating trio of salads; at the moment there’s shaved zucchini with mint and lemon; roasted cauliflower with tabouli, quinoa and brown rice and a sweet and textural sweet potato, watercress and honeyed walnut salad.
The cafe’s design mirrors the menu and philosophy in simplicity and elegance, though being in Pagewood, it’s not as subtle as you’d imagine. Between an old newsagent and a chips-and-coke Aussie tuck shop, the wide front window, open kitchen and elegant bench will probably lead passers-by to assume higher pricetags than they’ll actually find inside.
Coffee, of course, comes courtesy of Kurth and Dharmawan’s old haunt. Don’t expect anything less than the standard at Mecca. Dharmawan, who’s running the coffee side of things, is a previous winner of the NSW Barista Championship. Do expect all the associated coffee frills, Panivore provide filter and both iced coffees and cold brew from the fridge.