At first glance, Cultured looks like another standard cafe – porridge, eggs, fish and chips and fruit salads. At closer inspection, much like the produce market it sits in, Cultured is inspired by Australia’s assorted cultures.
“We're inspired by marketplaces around the world,” says Korolos Ibrahim, the cafe’s designer. The most interesting expression of the Cultured team’s idea is the pan-seared carrot pudding, a soft dome of carroty sponge with basil-lime cream and pistachio honeycomb on top. It’s a wild combination on paper, but in reality it’s like a soft version of Indian carrot halwa. Then there’s the Thai-Burmese-English blackened-chicken sour curry with a scotch egg. And the watermelon, spinach and salted-pineapple “fruit salad”.
More subtle tweaks include the eggplant fritters (a take on the eggplant parma) with bocconcini, pesto and a merlot-infused tomato sauce. And a crumbed-fish taco with mushy peas, bacon relish, mango salsa and a large (for a taco) hunk of crunchy, battered fish. Ibrahim and Cultured’s owners (cafe newcomers Tausif Chowdhury, Tushar Menon and Nishant Menon) put together the menu with help from Indu’s Bimal Kumar. “He came up with a menu that reflected our vision – a modern-Australian breakfast menu, but with different cultural elements to it,” says Tushar.
The design has the aged-warehouse look, and includes the pot plants that are ubiquitous in the Sydney cafe scene.
“I wanted to play with the idea of the marketplace, but keep a homely feel. I guess you could call it industrial chic,” says Ibrahim. From the mini, 35-seat mezzanine, you can see all the merchant-floor action. The coffee beans here are from Five Senses.
Danks Street Produce Merchants, 3 Danks Street, Waterloo
0418 833 118
Mon to Fri 7am–4pm
Sat to Sun 8am–4pm