John Montagu, the Woolloomooloo cafe inspired by the probable or accidental inventor of the sandwich, has a mistress. Her name's Ms Murray and, just like the 18th-century socialite who romped with the Earl of Sandwich himself, she’s the subject of gossip.
Most of the early chatter has to do with chef and co-owner Raymond Lim’s yoghurt bowl. It’s a mix of coconut and chia pudding, iced fruits, Greek yoghurt and toasted oats, that looks like an edible terrarium.
“We’re going for some kind of British influence,” confirms co-owner Narada Kudinar. England was Fanny Murray’s motherland, after all.
It’s not all English, though, and it’s certainly not traditional. Witness the salmon rillette with cream cheese and coddled egg on a lily pad of pea panna cotta. Or start the day with a blood-sausage breakfast bowl – pumpkin rice cooked in chicken stock, topped with Maffra cheese, spiced nuts, buttermilk and an onsen egg.
Lim has fine-dining pedigree (Attica, Les Amis) and says this menu was the plan all along; John Montagu just didn’t have a big enough kitchen. Kudinar adds, “Our focus is to put more of a dining sense into it.”
The cafe design is smart and following the look common in Sydney: white tiles, light wood, half table seating and half bar. The intention is clear – the focus here is the food.