Eric Mendoza is a sommelier. He’s worked at Porteño, Bloodwood and Baxter Inn. His tiny Pyrmont cafe has all the charm of the American South. The fit-out and style is minimal and appropriately quaint for a cafe that opens onto a paved alley. The charm comes from the menu and Mendoza himself, who was born in Houston, Texas. The food is generous, and the treat section comes from his memories and family recipes; chocolate-chip cookies; zucchini bread (Mendoza’s mum’s special) and chocolate brownies.
The other half of the menu is inspired by the delis and diners that have defined American streets for decades. There are hot dogs with wieners from smallgoods champion Eli Challenger, and a classic breakfast with rye, scrambled eggs and a double serving of Challenger’s streaky bacon. From the deli there’s bagels with smoked salmon, capers and cream cheese. And pastrami, mustard and Westmont pickles.
On the sandwich menu there are five different Reuben renditions; two long cheese-heavy subs; a Tex-Mex mix of rice, beans and avocado; and the Grand Central with scrambled eggs, onion jam, Swiss cheese and a choice of bacon, corned beef or pastrami.
Only the coffee hasn’t been imported from Mendoza’s dream. Instead of American filter coffee from the pot there’s espresso from ex-Two Chaps man Richie Maxfiled’s Blind Coffee Roaster, Sticky Chai and Nutella hot chocolates.