A new cafe called Left of Field has opened in Rhodes. The name couldn’t be more fitting; the menu is in a field all its own. It’s also an outlier in terms of location – it’s unusual to find a cafe pushing boundaries like this so far from the city.

It's part of a new riverside development in Rhodes; At the moment it looks like an off-season resort – brand new and empty. The cafe, among all the cranes and new townhouses, is a promising sign of what’s to come; not just in Rhodes, but in western Sydney generally.

“I wanted to bring some quality day-time dining to the areas where we live, where we grew up and where our families are,” says Matthew Abi-Arrage (ex-Merivale and Sand Hill Road Group), Left of Field’s co-owner. “Growing up in the west, it was always hard to find quality, new stuff. There was always solid milk bars and chicken shops, but not much in terms of new, innovative offerings.”

Abi-Arrange and his business partner and cousin, Clovice Khachan, have brought in Ashley Patfield to run the kitchen. He’s a fine-dining chef with excellent pedigree (est., Guillaume at Bennelong, Wheelers St James, The Gilbert Scott). Like Abi-Arrage and Khachan, this is his first gig with full creative control.

His experience is instantly evident with dishes such as gin- and juniper-cured trout with fennel, poached eggs and yuzu foam. Or the umami-rich toasted brioche with fried duck egg, wild mushrooms, asparagus, pecorino and truffle.

Even classic cafe dishes are more refined and unusual. Fluffy hotcakes are topped with caramelised banana, Earl Grey custard and popcorn. The burgers, instead of being stuffed with American cheese and bacon, have either mud crab, Asian slaw and a pickled pear and lime mayonnaise in them, or a pig-cheek-schnitzel patty, kimchi and a fried egg. The latter is served with panko-crusted pig’s-ear fries instead of chips. “We have heaps of people finish their whole plate and then say ‘What's in the fries?’ We're like, ‘They're pigs ears’. They reply: ‘Oh I don't know if I like them anymore,’” Abi-Arrage says with a laugh.

The cafe’s design fits in with current trends; high ceilings, pastel-coloured furniture and a collection of greenery. Once the surrounding construction has finished the cafe will have water views. It’s easy to imagine it becoming a hub of the area. “On top of my family living here, it's really exciting to be amongst it,” says Abi-Arrage.

Left of Field
Shop 3/7 Gauthorpe Street, Rhodes
(02) 9752 7729

Hours:
Mon to Fri 7am–4pm
Sat & Sun 8am–4pm
facebook.com/lof.rhodes