Sly opened on March 10, which by pure co-incidence was the birthday of notorious Sydney gangster-queen Kate Leigh. This may be insignificant to some, but considering this little cafe has set up digs in what was once a notorious Kate Leigh sly-grog shop, it seemed like fate to owner and chef Dean Wilkinson.
“We did actually open on her birthday – but we didn’t plan it that way,” laughs Wilkinson.
Specialising in “grown-up jaffles” and toasted sandwiches, Wilkinson wasn’t originally looking to set up shop in Surry Hills, but when he stumbled on the empty spot, it just seemed to work.
“We Googled it and found out what it had been and then we researched it from there,” he says. The history of the location was what encouraged him to strip it back to its raw brick and exposed-timber state, with swinging decanters and bottles as lights.
Coffee is a special blend made for Sly courtesy of Roastworks Coffee Co. specialty roasters in Artarmon, with the house blend aptly called Snow Queen – a reference to Leigh’s reputation as a cocaine dealer. Jaffles include duck and chestnut or d’Affinois and pear. Toasties come in porchetta and applecrack sauce, or jamon with manchego.
“I grew up with jaffles, camping as a kid, it’s an Aussie thing to do. But these are upgraded, they’re the adult version,” says Wilkinson. There may be a liquor license in the future, which we’re sure would make Kate Leigh turn in her grave, but for now it’s all coffee, jaffles and house-made muffins.