After rounding up our favourite restaurant openings of 2017, it’s time to look at the recently opened cafes that have got us out of bed.
These new venues have messed with standard breakfast menus, opting for Asian flavours of pandan, matcha, black sesame and yuzu instead of standard egg-and-bacon rolls. Vegan and plant-based cafes are also on the rise.
Picture two waffles drenched in gooey chocolate and covered in flakes of dried coconut. In-between them is a thick layer of soft nougat parfait. It looks and tastes just like a lamington, but it’s chewier, richer and less airy. This is just one of the reimagined classics on the menu at Concord’s new local. It comes from the team behind Left of Field in Rhodes.
Meet Mica’s kitchen is led by former Tetsuya’s chef Lee Li. If you’re looking to impress someone, this elaborate menu will do the trick. Congee is topped with charred lobster tail and French toast is flavoured with matcha. While the food is refined, the design is simple; white tiles, light timbers and sculptural light fittings. The coffee offerings include Little Marionette with monthly guest roasters for those who enjoy filters.
JC & Co. Espresso and Patisserie
The main event at this Strathfield cafe is definitely the rainbow crepe cake. It’s not the only sweet thing here, though: JC & Co’s menu is all about desserts and pastries. Husband and wife team Jefferson and Cindy Lee incorporate Korean ingredients into their dishes (the tiny matcha macaroons are made with black sesame and yuzu), and they borrow techniques from France and Japan, a mixture that plays out through the interior design, too.
LABLD Cafe and Grocer
On a bright corner of Illawarra Road you’ll find this Asian-inspired cafe and grocer. Mecca coffee takes centre stage alongside nitro brew (a bubbling iced coffee infused with nitrogen). The must-order dishes include the Birds Nest (poached eggs wrapped in potato spaghetti, avocado puree, fried leek, snow pea tendrils and sil-gochu – a shredded Korean red pepper); sweet pandan pancakes (caramelised banana-and-honeycomb cream with meringue and cherry); and house-made momos (Himalayan-style dumplings).
The surge of vegan-based eateries continues in Glebe. Matt McLennan, co-founder of Taste Organic grocer, prefers to load his dishes with vegetables, and his partner, Pim Tummasombut, lets his Thai background pepper the menu, particularly with the pandan-and-lemongrass waffles.
This hole-in-the-wall cafe in north Willoughby is run by Murat and Dani Kum, the guys behind Roseville’s Calibrate. It reminds us of the tiny specialty shops in Japan – a theme that runs throughout. The Nourish Bowl features green tea and buckwheat soba noodles, agedashi-style tofu, pickled vegetables and a sesame dressing. The team uses the Calibrate coffee blend and a rotating single origin for those who like their brew black.
Milk Bar Cafe
If you’re looking for a dose of nostalgia, head to this cafe that has taken over a ’70s milk bar. The staff wears Hawaiian shirts, there’s pinball machines and a low-rider bike. This may be the last place in Sydney you can still buy one-cent lollies, after eating all of your honey-spiced granola with fruit and yoghurt, of course.
The team behind Funkis has opened a Swedish-inspired cafe at the back of its retail store in Paddington. Order a dark rye skagen – open-faced sandwiches topped with house gravlax and pickles, or pumpkin and eggs – and an Allpress coffee.