The inner west just won’t quit building on what is already a busy dining and drinking scene. Established favourites Hartsyard and Cornersmith have had menu and dining space updates. A market stall selling Venezuelan-Colombian sandwiches has opened a shopfront. Asian-flavoured doughnuts and milkshakes can now be had in Redfern. And a more-than-just-a-bottle-shop has opened under the management of some of Sydney’s best minds in fun drinking and dining. Here’s where to go in the inner west for all these and more.
P&V Wine & Liquor Merchants
This is no ordinary bottle shop. Not least because it is by some of Australia’s most boundary-pushing food and drinks specialists from Mary’s, The Lansdowne and The Unicorn Hotel. Wine writer, wine maker and all-round wine expert Mike Bennie (Rootstock) is also behind the project.
The wine program is minimal intervention and grouped by “feel”. Expect to find bottles listed under “textural and exotic white” or “light and bright red” or “park wines”. There are exclusive wine blends poured from a tap (available in 375 millilitres, 750 millilitres and growler size), beers from local breweries and takeaway cocktails in returnable bottles. You can also pick up TV dinners, stop in to look at the small library of wine and drinks magazines and books, or partake in a tasting between 4pm and 8pm.
The short menu here is not so “everyday”. Eggs Benedict is topped with a yuzu hollandaise, then served in a croissant with buttermilk fried chicken and bacon. The omelette comes with a side of soba noodles and enoki mushrooms with a light soy dressing. But if you want something more standard there are sandwiches, cakes and toasties, too. Coffee is by Pablo and Rusty and there’s a rotating guest of roasters for the filter coffee.
Arepas are Venezuelan-Colombian maize pancakes and they’re the big deal at La Reina. The store’s owners started out with a market stall (Arepas Australia) and have been educating Australians about the sandwich-pancake ever since.
The menu is simple: arepas in different styles. The classic is pabellon (a mix of sweet plantain, shredded pork, black beans and a milky cheese) and then there’s reina pepiada, Venezuela’s answer to the chicken and avocado sandwich.
This is another example of a popular market stall committing to a shopfront. The doughnuts at Donut Papi (by siblings Kenneth and Karen Rodrigueza) come in Asian flavours inspired mainly by the owners’ Filipino heritage and their interest in Japanese tastes and matcha. Ube (purple yam) and pandan doughnuts are always available but the rest of the selection changes daily; watch out for glazed and jam-filled varieties and handmade Pop-Tarts and “duffins” (doughnut muffins). Often there are gluten free and vegan options, too. Karen also makes brownies and chocolate-crinkle sandwiches, which are fudgy cookies sometimes referred to as “crackle cookies” popular in the Philippines.
In January this already well-known restaurant had a refresh to its menu and dining room. And (perhaps controversially) it dropped its famous fried chicken from its menu in favour of more vegetables and seafood (don't worry, it is still available in their other Enmore Road digs, the newly named Wish Bone. Following the refresh you might eat scampi and prawn tartare, or a tomato salad with barbequed calamari, pickled seaweed and sesame. All the venue’s herbs and greens still come from the greenhouse out back; and veggies are harvested from a garden not far away.
There is nothing new about Cornersmith; in fact it’s a regular part of inner-west life for many. But the cafe and picklery is now doing dinner, and it’s daytime menu has had a reboot. Cornersmith’s owners are calling it a more “grown up” version of the original. But it has the same ethos and atmosphere inner westies have always loved.
In the evening come for organic oysters from Wapengo Rocks, pickled blue mackerel, and smoked Memphis pork with peach barbeque sauce. Now during the day you can build a plate from a selection of "plants", "animals", "staples" and condiments.
Diners can have a house-made Bloody Mary with breakfast, or with lunch and dinner a wine from a rotating list, which might feature producers such as Margaret River's Si Vintners and Mudgee's Eloquesta. Dinner available Wednesday to Sunday.
The first Dish opened in Toongabbie. And this second store in Glebe reiterates what the west’s Sri Lankan community loved about the original. In Glebe you’ll get Sri Lankan and South Indian classics such as kottu roti (roti chopped up and fried with egg and vegetables), dosa, biryani and hoppers (bowl-shaped crepes made with a fermented rice flower). And there’s barramundi ambulthiyal, barramundi marinated in tamarind and curry spices grilled in a banana leaf.
This is the kind of neighbourhood Italian restaurant everyone wants to live near. Food here is served fast and fresh. There are just six pastas with your choice of sauce and a couple of starter options (takeaway is available, too). For four hours every morning, chef Fabio Stefanelli simmers away chunks of beef, roma tomatoes, mushrooms and red wine to create a rich pasta sauce. For dessert, Sicilian cannoli are piped with a fresh-ricotta cream infused with oranges that are stewed for five hours with cinnamon and star anise.
Brothers Alvin Saputra and Akbar Thais serve rendang with cheese in a quesadilla. And their mum reckons their charcoal chicken is burnt. What’s conventional in Australia or in Indonesia doesn’t matter to the pair a jot. They’re mixing what they like from Australian culture with memories of where they’re from, which is Surakarta, Indonesia.
This place also does brunch. There are pandan pancakes, Indonesian-Dutch hash-brown stacks, Brickfields bread and Welcome Dose roasted coffee. Lunch is toasties, fried noodles and gado gado. There’s a courtyard space and an upstairs balcony area, which in the day is flooded with sunlight and at night lets diners eat under the stars.
Pizzeria da Alfredo
Alfredo Repole has been making pizza since he was 11 years old. He is from Naples and says the pizza he serves is “real”. What he means is he is pedantic about adhering to the rules of Neapolitan dough and pizza making. It must have a thin, elastic base with a puffy, blistered edge and be topped only with ingredients from the south-western Italian region of Campania. And it has to be cooked in an extremely hot woodfired oven for 60 to 90 seconds.
Also in his menu is a seafood linguini and the paccheri Genovese, a long, tubular pasta served with a slow-cooked beef stew. Enjoy with full-bodied red wines or an Aperol spritz.
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