Monday, 15 December 2014

Manchester Press (Melbourne)


Melbourne Visit: Part 2

Nerd’s I have a confession, I went to Melbourne in winter this year and had some amazing coffee and café experiences. Sorry I’ve been so slack.

While I don't write much about other cities I thought I’d put up some from our Southern city.

Manchester Press

Scores:
Coffee: 17/20
Whole experience (cafe + coffee): 31/40

Another café, another alleyway with of cause, an unmarked café entrance.

Remembering back to one of the last cafes I went to in Melbourne I’m writing about it because it is really worth the visit.

Manchester Press, found down when I believe is Rankin Lane, just off Little Bourke Street (that’s the best directions I can give), is a café that has clearly hit the big time. UrbanSpoon rankings are high, bloggers have over reviewed the place to death (yours truly adding to the mess) and Broadsheet, Good Food Guide and by the looks of it Lonely Planet all raving about the place. If there was a standard bearer of the Melbourne Café scene this would have to be one.

Walking in from a rain shower at 2:30 in the afternoon, Nerd2 and I were greeted with a room heaving with people. By the look of the clientele a mix between inner city workers grabbing a late afternoon caffeine hit and tourists, lots of tourists (like me!).


Described by Broadsheet as a “surprisingly spacious and tranquil” and “the kind of place you could be perfectly comfortable spreading out an entire newspaper”… I’m not sure they came, but on this wet winters afternoon, if I’d spread about a newspaper (even a crap tabloid size newspaper – SMH, AGE I’m looking at you) I would have it in the face of the guy next to me.

Staff on our arrival tried their best and with great skill, quickly found an edge of a table for Nerd2 and I to perch on (we naturally looked very cool in doing so). Once seated I ordered a long black, Nerd 2 a tea.

The first thing your note about Manchester Press is the impressive bagel menu; I seem to remember ordering one and love it. The second thing your notice is that this space is bloody fantastic. Manchester Press is exactly how I’d make an artsy alleyway café look, to a T.



Lean back (making sure you don’t fall into guy next to you) and admire the street art across the walls, the sculptures on top of things, those huge light fittings and the random collection of tables. Again it’s enough to make this Sydney Nerd quite envious.

The coffee was soon with us. The long black had a delightful cheery floral roasted aroma to it with caramel undertones that solidified the aroma.

Taste wise I found it to be a solid well balanced drink. While floral in the aroma, in the taste it had some initial earthiness to it. This earthiness was followed through with a long sweet, nutty caramel aftertaste, just great mix.

Letting it sit, the acidic flavors of the bespoke 8oz roast, that were there initially started to become quite mellow, the caramel taking over the show.

Nerd2 and I lingered a while here, enough for me to get a macchiato, which came with some super stylish latte art. Again a very fresh, sweet, complex experience.

Overall, if you don’t mind the crush and a bit of a wait, the café is well worth the trip. The staff are uber cool hipsters, but still helpful. The space is killer the art and what not impactful and the 8oz coffee which they run through their espresso machines is a roast I’d like here in Sydney. My only advice – if you’re here in winter avoid the seat near the door (if you can) it gets bloody cold.

Scores:
1. Coffee score
Style (look and feel): 8/10
Experience (taste and smell): 9/10
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Coffee total: 17/20
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2. Cafe score
Style (what’s it feel like): American subway
Cool?: 8/10
Service: 6/10
-----------
Cafe: 14/20
-----------
Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 31/40


Manchester Press on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Atlas Kiosk - Bondi

Scores:
Coffee: 15/20
Whole experience (cafe + coffee): 29/40

Another weekend and another trip to Bondi. I’m clearly trying to make up for my lack of beaching last year with trying to hit the beach every weekend I can, even if I’m a Darlinghurst resident…

After a bit of a wet Sunday morning, Nerd 2 and I having done a wild cliff walk, looked to hit up one of the multitude of cafes on Hall Street. There are a few famous ones on the street: Sensory Lab, Bills (Bondi); Gertrude and Alice; and a whole stack of other hyper popular joints like Bondi Hardware, choice is not the problem.

One of the first cafes on Hall Street (if coming from the beach) is Atlas Kiosk a café with a strong 1950’s diner vibe. The café, when thinking on it could easily fit into any seaside suburb along the Sydney coastline. Although it’s larger than life staff like surfy/musico staff clearly fit the Bondi bill.

Walk in, pushing through the surfies waiting on the footpath for their takeaway coffees and pull up a chair. You, like I, may find the menu a little hard to come by, so go past the counter on the way in and the staff with sort you out.

The menu boasts of Deluca House roast being pushed though the grinder, that the menu names as the ‘beast form the east’. Love a bit of bravado in hyping up a coffee. Also note they highlight where the milk is from or something (I’m not up with my milk knowledge) regardless I thought it was cool.

Order at the counter and go for one of the Mediterranean options. Look, I don’t review the food, but to this totally unknowing nerd it was some good stuff.

When it came to the drink orders I went a latte (hey how could you not want to try Jersey milk?), Nerd2 a chai (the drink with the leaves).

While waiting on the food and drinks Nerd2 and I scoped out the place. It’s clearly a lot of people’s local, the banter between the barista, staff and customers was amusing and friendly. It’s also worth checking out the wall of random post cards/posters and other stuff around the shop (not that you’d miss them).

The coffee came out - it looked good although it was a “no extra shit” kind of place. While I expect the barista knows how to make a leaf out of milk and what not, that’s not just a big thing here. Points do however do get added for the tourist spoon, it really fit in with the whole outfit. Milk ratio wise, as you can see for yourself, my drink sat right, milk was hotter than some places, but not burnt at all, thanks jersey milk?

The coffee smelled and initially tasted of dark chocolate and something a bit nutty likely hazelnut. It was a full-bodied affair for a milky coffee and had the hint of something sweeter to it.

Letting the sucker sit for a while, brought out something far sweeter to it, like mixing caramel and dark chocolate together, the nuttiness I found was getting a little lost in the cooler drink.

Overall, I’ve been to Atlas 3 times in the last 3 years and not been disappointed once. The staff are friendly, food tasty and coffee a very strong option in a highly competitive street. Would recommend.

Scores:
1. Coffee score
Style (look and feel): 7/10 – spoon wins them love
Experience (taste and smell): 8/10
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Coffee total: 15/20
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2. Cafe score
Style (what’s it feel like): Happy Days
Cool?: 7/10
Service: 7/10
-----------
Cafe: 14/20
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Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 29/40


Atlas Kiosk on Urbanspoon

Monday, 8 December 2014

Bowery to Williamsburg (Melbourne)

Melbourne Visit: Part 1

Nerd’s I have a confession, I went to Melbourne in winter this year and had some amazing coffee and café experiences. Sorry I’ve been so slack.

While I don’t write much about other cities I thought I’d put up some from our Southern city.

Bowery to Williamsburg

Scores:
Coffee: 18/20
Whole experience (cafe + coffee): 35/40

I hate to say it as a Sydneysider, but this café is ace.

Found as down an alleyway, predictably next to some dumpsters, this café gem was my first pit stop in Melbourne.

Walk up and grab a seat, I was there in winter so a seat outside (like what I did) had a heater welcomingly near it. I’d not recommend the seats without one in winter (in summer the city is ridiculously hot so clearly don’t sit near a heater then…).

The café is part of the American food revolution that is taking over all cafes. Therefore, I went for a latte and some ridiculously amazing sounding fatty, Australian sculpted, bagel.

The latte came out to me pretty quickly and was served with a (Hershey’s) Kiss,. You’ll see the latte art was also killer.

Aroma wise, the smell of the coffee was quite mild with some soft sweet milk flavours wafting through my nose.

Taste wise it was divine, the soft notes of caramel and something else milky sweet cut, mixed with some gentle smokiness from the roast cut through the milk very well. It was anything but overpowering, and went super well with the Hershey Kiss.

Let it sit and let it cool with the air around you (or if its summer the super hot air around you). The coffee becomes something akin to a desert, with the caramel taking control, for the love of god don’t add sugar.

Overall, goddamn this place is cool. I really rate it and hate thinking of a café up with Brewtown Newtown, but it totally is. The staff are friendly and will likely find a way to squish you in. The inside of the café (which I’ve not talked about) has a great subway theme to it. And the coffee is unlikely anything I’ve come across in Sydney. Bowery and Padre (the roaster) I take my hat off to you sirs.

Ps. If you’re wondering I believe the blend I tried was called Daddy’s Girl espresso blend. When will it be in Sydney?

Scores:
1. Coffee score
Style (look and feel): 9/10
Experience (taste and smell): 9/10
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Coffee total: 18/20
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2. Cafe score
Style (what’s it feel like): American subway
Cool?: 9/10
Service: 7/10
-----------
Cafe: 17/20
-----------
Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 35/40


Bowery to Williamsburg on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Pier 8 Café

Scores:
Coffee: 13/20
Whole experience (cafe + coffee): 27/40

Nerd 2’s morning yoga session at the Sydney Theatre Company finds me, after being an excellent boyfriend in Millers Point amongst the wharfs. As a guy who has never really been around the area much, aside from a few business meetings (and a new years eve or two) I could not resist walking away from the road and along the water looking for a coffee.

While you’re not spoiled for choice in the area, given most business is weekday, rather than weekend. There are a few cafes dotted along the main premade which you could easily check out. The one that caught my eye was on the last pier about halfway down the wharf.

Pier 8 café is a testament to the quantity and quality of space in the area. While Sydney cafes we’re use to tend to be small and quirky affair, this cafe was comparatively gigantic (it also has a children’s play area…).

As most people seem confused upon arrival (myself included), it’s table service. Grab a seat.

There were plenty of morning brunches happening, but also tables a plenty. I grabbed a table outside, which you should too if it’s a nice day.

Soon after sitting service was around asking me what I wanted, I went a long black. The coffee’s arrival was not long off from ordering.

Presentation was in a Campos cup, the crema was consistent and it had a pleasing golden brown colour to it.

Campos is the bean of choice at Pier 8 (given away by the cups) and is a bean that you kind of know what to expect. It’s a great roast in that way, unless you have some terrible elements behind the scenes.

The aroma of Pier 8’s coffee was both fruity and sugar sweet rich. Not too dissimilar from the Campos café product, although in saying that not the same by a long way. The boys and girls in Newtown and Alexandria may sell their signature roast, but do keep their coffee making magic at home.

The flavours of the coffee were again rich and fruity and quite sugar sweet. In tasting it this is where you can tell the difference between Campos store and a café serving Campos coffee. Not to discredit Pier 8, the coffee had a full body and a nice slightly sweet aftertaste.

While you’re here, do let the coffee sit, and take in the surroundings. It is the location of the café that is the true joy of the space - soak it in. Conversations around me were far more proper than I’ve come to expect from the inner west or inner eastern cafes. Even the kids here seemed to know more of fine popular culture – dance, drama and singing than I will likely ever know. Clearly the influence of both the Sydney Dance and Sydney Theatre companies.

Letting the coffee sit brings out the acidity of the bean and mixes some more of the fruity elements of the bean, it remains a punchy drink right to the end.

Overall, I likely could not have hoped for a better morning experience. The coffee was solid, service the friendly sort and space right next to or in fact on top of the harbour utterly relaxing. There is something so calming about watching waves push boats around (or maybe that’s just me?) making that “clink, click sound).

Scores:
1. Coffee score
Style (look and feel): 7/10
Experience (taste and smell): 6/10
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Coffee total: 13/20
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2. Cafe score
Style (what’s it feel like): Warehouse on the water
Cool?: 8/10
Service: 6/10
-----------
Cafe: 14/20
-----------
Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 27/40


Pier 8 Cafe on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Sensory Lab - Bondi


Scores:
Coffee: 17/20
Whole experience (cafe + coffee): 31/40

A stunning Sydney morning had me driving to Bondi from Darlinghurst at 7am for an early morning swim. In a rather personal note, I mark in summer every year in our coastal city with a swim at Bondi, before I release it's a massive tourist trap (again).

I've come to Bondi for years thinking the coffee was going to be shit and look it generally is. However I was surprised on my last visit with a mate a few years ago that amongst the overpriced, over branded crap some quality places are about (if just a little off the main tourist trail) and I can see just a couple of years on that things are even better today.

St. Ali is a stable of the Melbourne coffee scene these days. However, aside from a few notable exceptions (Rupert and Ruby temporary pop up joint would be one) the roaster has not made its way around much.

Sensory Lab Bondi is the first official expansion from the Roaster and one I've been meaning to check out since my trip down to Melbourne over the winter.

Sensory Lab is a cafe with more men with beards and women with yoga mats than without. It’s a café all about its chilled Sunday morning music sessions, highly polished cement floors and walls, treated leather panels and lets not forget the Sydney cafe classic, the cronut. An interesting mix of inner city wank meets beachy hipster.

The table space can be hard to come by at Sensory Lab, but it does open up so do have patience. I waited awkwardly for about 2 mins for a table, pretending there was something really interesting on my phone, it worked out.

With a table marked out as mine. I ordered at the counter. While St. Ali house roast goes well with milk, I went a long black as that is what everyone else was drinking (zero calories people...).

My coffee turned up pretty quickly. The creama had one of those killer colours. Aroma wise, I found it to be quite fruity with a distinctly wonderful ashy smell.

The initial taste was quite acidic and punchy, but notably I found it be well balanced with lingering dusty cocoa flavours.

Letting it sit, which is well worth doing. Perhaps over reading an article from Vice, Junkee or pedestrian.tv to keep up-to-date with cool pop culture news? The waiting time dulls that initial punch but keeps the fruity flavours going - which at this stage I should note are more like apple fruit like than berry fruit like in flavour.

Overall, it's clearly a top line cafe that has worked out that Bondi is not just home to the tourist, but also coffee loving hipsters (did the over referenced and quoted 'Bondi Hipsters' give it away?). Sensory Lab is truly a Bondi cross Collins Street experience that is playing with a bean that may grow to a Campos like level with time. Sensory Lab is well worth the walk up away from the beach side cafes when you're next at the beach.

PS. while you're at Bondi buy a hot dog from the nipper's parents. the stall is there on Sunday next to Bucket List.

Scores:
1. Coffee score
Style (look and feel): 8/10
Experience (taste and smell): 9/10
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Coffee total: 17/20
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2. Cafe score
Style (what’s it feel like): Little Collins Street at a Bondi beach
Cool?: 7/10
Service: 7/10
-----------
Cafe: 15/20
-----------
Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 31/40


Sensory Lab Bondi Beach on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Scala's - Sydney Market

Scores:
Coffee: 13/20
Whole experience (cafe + coffee): 27/40

I've been critiqued for visiting places that are too 'wanky'. And look let's face it, inner city cafes are wanky places. If you're keen of escaping the Newtown/Darlinghurst/Bondi scene and people me (most of the year), head west.

This Saturday morning finds Nerd 2 and I at Sydney Markets, out near Olympic park. If you've never been to the sprawling marketplace, and you live in Sydney you should check it out. It is more or less the place you go to get fruit and veggies without the multiple middleman, often right off the back the farmer's truck. For my hipster comrades it's the Urban Harvest Collective without the Urban and Collective parts.

After a 6 or 7am shop (get here 730 at the very latest as the good stuff is gone) and having picked through multitudes of veggies, negotiating the cost of mint and Asian greens down and bought far more food than you have anticipated, it's time to start looking for a coffee. Let's face it you've been awake for 2+ hours and it's only 8am Saturday morning.

What is wonderful about the market, food aside, is the many generations of Australians who have played a role in establishing and using the marketplace. Europeans have played a big role in developing the market particularly Italians whose roots you can see in the stalls, banter, visitors and importantly for us the coffee.

I'm sure all regulars have a go to café on site, and I'm not sure I have the time nor Nerd2's patience with me to try them all. So, thanks to a recommendation we walked through the flower market to Scala.

Found, if your standing within at the Flower Markets in the direction away from the Food Markets, the cafe is like your Italian mate's grandparents opened a cafe.

Scala is beyond charming. Packaged pasta, olive oil, mineral water, coffee beans and tinned tomatoes line the walls. Dried and cured meat hands behind the counter and huge floral displays sit on the counters.

Walk into the organised chaos and grab a table. The ordering process, strangely suits the feel of the place, just wait at the counter a while (don't worry there is no wrong place to stand) and you'll undoubtedly look confused and the staff will sort you out.

I went a latte and the Italian omelette; Nerd2 went for a mineral water and strawberry ricotta pancakes (I had a tiny bit of breakfast envy in her order).

Both the food and coffee appeared reasonably quickly, brought over by a charming elderly man. The coffee was made and presented with no fuss. Look, I’ve gotten in trouble from cafe loyalists for making down no fuss coffees and the same will happen here, just thought I'd let you know.

The coffee, Molinari, had those classic flavours that you'd associated with an Italian style. The aroma was quite smoky, even through the heated milk and had some light hints of fruit balanced against some stronger milk chocolate flavours.

The initial taste found the espresso to be quite heavy in body and medium in acidity. The flavours of the roaster were initially quite prominent with the ashy flavours coming through quite strongly.

Let your coffee sit and let your table neighbours bring you into their shopping conversation (it'll happen). This waiting will allow the body of the coffee to strengthen and you'll find intensified chocolate flavours making it a satisfying milk coffee experience.

Overall, if you ever wished you had Italian grandparents this might be as close as you’ll ever get. The food is ridiculously generous and old school tasty, the coffee made with traditional thought and the overall experience, particularly if you add in the fact you've likely shopped at the market before hand, a great way to start an active Sydney weekend.

Scores:
1. Coffee score
Style (look and feel): 5/10
Experience (taste and smell): 7/10
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Coffee total: 13/20
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2. Cafe score
Style (what’s it feel like): An Italian supermarket
Cool/unique?: 8/10
Service: 6/10
-----------
Cafe: 15/20
-----------
Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 27/40


Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Brooklyn Hide

Scores:
Coffee: 15/20
Whole experience (cafe + coffee): 28/40

A Saturday morning craving finds Nerd2 and I on a slow (but epic) walk from Darlinghurst to Surry Hills in search of a quality bagel. Yes, I hear you say bagels are everywhere around Sydney today with the American cafe food trend, but I was not after any old bagel.

Brooklyn Hide, found on Commonwealth Street close to Foveaux cross section, is a cafe about three things - cow's hide; bagels; and luckily for me coffee. Walk in, being sure not to wipe your shoes on the cowhide and grab a table along with your likely choice in bagel brunch.

For a Saturday of a long weekend, the cafe was busy but not hectic, but hey 10:30am in lower Surry Hills district is practically 7am for the rest of Sydney... except of course unless you're planning a breakfast at the always popular Reuben Hills.

As Little Marionette is the roaster at Brooklyn, short lattes are never a bad call. A Reuben like bagel (the midtown) and a latte was soon on its way. For Nerd2 a chai-latte and smoked salmon bagel (SOHO) was on the menu.

The crowd was mostly young, possibly hung over and there were a few morning after breakfasts going on. The relaxed staff, dark cafe colours and relaxed electro music worked with the crowd.

The latte, chai and two bagels soon made their appearance. The coffee was made with a casual leaf pour, the glass smaller than most would expect (a very good thing for the drink) and heat and proportions right.

The coffee's aroma was rich, punchy with a hint from both the smoky roaster and the dark chocolate bean. Taste wise it was a good drink with flavours mixing and punching through the milk well. I'd describe it as a mix of both dark chocolate and orange like flavours.

Nerd2 would also like to note the chai was fantastic drink, a nice well-balanced spicy and sweet drink. She'd recommend it for those who are coffee adverse.

Overall, it's a good choice for coffee, bagels and even chai. Brooklyn Hide, a 2013 establishment, was/is likely ahead of its time, with bagels and Americana being all rage. I loved my Reuben bagel and moreover enjoyed a coffee that was made to a relaxed high standard.

Scores:
1. Coffee score
Style (look and feel): 7/10
Experience (taste and smell): 8/10
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Coffee total: 15/20
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2. Cafe score
Style (what’s it feel like): Americana
Cool?: 7/10
Service: 6/10
-----------
Cafe: 13/20
-----------
Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 28/40


Brooklyn Hide on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Ms. Miller

Scores:
Coffee: 14/20
Whole experience (cafe + coffee): 28/40

A trip over the bridge finds me in the leafy North Shore suburb of Cammeray. From what I assumed would be a boring suburban shopping strip there are actually a plethora of  cafe options open and buzzing on a Sunday. I made a random choice in destination and went into the second cafe I came across to see what the scene was like. Ms. Miller, was the cafe.

Ms. Miller, is an airy joint that feels more bar than café (which it also happens to be..) and as such far more youthful than the immediate similar options like Maggios - a cafe (which was ridiculously popular) across the small pedestrian road. There was flowing traffic in and out of Miller's so I managed to walk on in and grab a table as it opened up.

Part bar, part cafe it's easy to see that this is a cafe reflecting a younger growing suburb. Modern chilled out music, exposed brick walls, a specialty beer on tap and a cocktail menu that will appear on your table on the stroke of midday - far more your Crows Nest than a Mosman.

Service was fast and relaxed, everyone was ordering milk coffee around me so I followed suit and a latte was soon on its way.

The latte came over to me quickly, made on what I assume is their their own house roast (noted by the unbranded bags of coffee beans on the counter) the drink made a good first impression. Hot, simple leaf art and well proportioned.

The initial flavour was quite nutty, with some dark cocoa textures. I found the milk quite hot, although not burnt. Lower North Shore people are the kings and queens of ordering 'extra hot' (at least this is what I've found) so in response baristas often make hotter than average milk than the rest of the city.

Letting the latte sit lets the dark chocolate like flavours become a little punchier, you can certainly taste the sweeter notes to the bean with time.

Overall, it's a bloody relaxing cafe and one I was pleased to pick at random. With the spring weather hitting 27C  it is the open breezy cafes, like Ms. Miller that will get the crowd's vote - the chilled music and space between tables is just an added bonus. Top that with potentially a unique roast that has a nice balance between bitter and sweet and a slight punch to it, alongside some very chilled but attentive staff and it all makes a classic cafe for a suburb.

Scores:
1. Coffee score
Style (look and feel): 7/10
Experience (taste and smell): 7/10
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Coffee total: 14/20
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2. Cafe score
Style (what’s it feel like): A cool suburban bar
Cool?: 7/10
Service: 7/10
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Cafe: 14/20
-----------
Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 28/40


Ms. Miller on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Rupert and Ruby

Scores:
Coffee: 17/20
Whole experience (cafe + coffee): 33/40

Come to it before it goes. It’s tempting as a blogger to ignore a pop up spots that have a short life expectancy. Yellow House was one example, which I loved but sadly did not get around to writing about. Stanley Street Merchants is another, which I tried to review but could never get a table. And Rupert & Ruby is another pop up, which in this case I have!

I can't even begin to imagine how hard it is to run a pop-up restaurant / café/ bar. The ‘build it and they will come’ theory does not work in a competitive Sydney scene, you have to have a hook. And if you have the hook (limited time only + creative menu), how do you maximise your profit in 3 months for it to even work?

Nerd 2 and I popped into this new (almost old for the site) café for a Saturday breakfast, post a deadlift filled gym session. Walking in, there was a clear 11am Darlinghurst buzz to the place. It’s that morning Darlinghurst mix between people flirting with a wine list and those clearly steering towards the orange juice (nerd 2…).

The vibe was chilled, the café dark and famous cartoon dogs (Snowy and Santa’s Little Helper) painted on the walls, it’s my kind of place.

Coffee was first up, St. Ali was the bean on the grind and I stumbled through asking for a latte, much to the amusement of the staff member. Food wise if you're interested I went for a great scrambled eggs thing, nerd two a smoked salmon breakfast option, both delicious.

On St Ali Coffee for a second, is a bean that is increasing becoming Melbourne regular and signal that a café has got their shit together (think Campos/ Toby’s Estate a few years ago in Sydney). Its house blend is a lovely bean and seems to travel well. Their signature/house blend, which I assume R&R are using, is a good choice with milk.

In between having a whinge about my back post gym. The coffee came out (I’m sure to Nerd 2 relief), proportions of it excellent, style fantastic (love the spoon – very old school Double Roasters like), great ‘leaf’ design and colouring constancy nice.

The aroma of the drink was sweet - chocolate like, however a little more complex than just that.

Tasting wise it does have the pleasant sweet dark(ish) chocolate flavour but also something quite fruity (citrus/sour). Perhaps a mixture between an apple and cherry? A super easy drink with a bit of a bold kick to it.

The meals came and went and while I do not review food was interesting Americana like stuff. Well worth checking out.

Overall, it’s a great place (while it’s open). The food is top notch, the staff have a great attitude, the décor is stylish and most importantly for me the coffee within the Darlinghurst scene a total standout. Well good enough for me to want to check it out again. As I said, come to it, before it goes!

Scores:
1. Coffee score
Style (look and feel): 9/10
Experience (taste and smell): 8/10
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Coffee total: 17/20
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2. Cafe score
Style (what’s it feel like):
Cool?: 8/10
Service: 8/10
-----------
Cafe: 16/20
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Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 33/40


Rupert & Ruby on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Toby's Estate (Sydney Airport) T2

Scores:
Coffee: 10/20
Whole experience (cafe + coffee): 19/40

I love flying. The are a few things you can buy which really signal of possibility and opportunity more than jumping on a plane to somewhere amazing. The excitement of flying is something I've had since I was a kid and as Nerd 2 knows far too well, I like to get to the airport far too early just to savour the experience.

One thing I don't like about flying however, now I'm all grown up, is the coffee at the airport. Food at SYD airport has improved remarkably over the years (there is now more than just a McDonalds), however coffee options have in general continued its average trajectory.

Flying to MEL this morning I was excited to see a few new coffee options in T2. By scoping out the place quickly in the main food court (right after the security point) I spotted three options that looked okay (maybe even good), Brasserie Bread (seem to have coffee in something other than paper cups although questionable coffee), Toby's Estate and the other place, whose name I have forgotten [ sorry!] (All Press). In general you typically have time for one (and money!) so there is a huge element of risk to the choice.

Now I just had one coffee so please forgive my inadequate review, but perhaps you've tried the other two (or know somewhere else), but I went Toby's Estate. Why? Well firstly, I work with brands and would hate to break the advertising mentality that 'big brands are successful because they are big'. Second I've reviewed Toby's Estate well on City Road. Third, I really wanted a good coffee and hoped they could pull it off.

Lining up I saw glasses and cups which gave me some hope that perhaps I could get a sit in drink. However as I ordered a latte “saying for here”, my hopes dashed as my order was written up and a paper cup was put into the production line.

The coffee was made quickly and the solo barista while being flooded with orders did put effort into the pour. He did a nice heart (which would have looked even better in a glass) and handed it off to me. Looks, as takeaway coffee goes, was nice, I like that they put in the effort into the pour and you are given the option put own your own lid.

I went no lid - and walked for 50 meters to grab a window space. Now while I like the idea not having a lid on my coffee in walking to a seat I quickly realised that a smarter move would have been to get one, as I did some fancy footwork around some hyperactive kids.

The coffee's aroma was almost non-existent by the time I sat down, the silky milk had began to settle and dry and I'm not sure the cardboard helped the experience.

Tasting wise, it was as far from City Road as you can get for Toby's. A little bland and slightly overheated and I could not really get any sort of discernible favour other than the milk (perhaps some caramel). The coffee just not what you'd expect from the brand.

Perhaps the quantity of milk needed to fill up a whole takeaway cup is either just not that suitable for the lovely and often more punchy bean. Perhaps the pour was a little under-extracted, due to inattention by the barista, due to the pressure he was under to pump out coffee so people will not miss their flights.

Enjoying the view I allowed the coffee to cool and steep. I found the flavours, once the coffee had cooled, were more to what I'd come to expect from the bean - I noted that a delicate and rich milk based cocoa, milky sweet caramel like flavours with an interesting earthy edge to it was starting to develop.

Overall, I'm perhaps being a little harsh on Toby's Estate however, I do it out of respect to their other key stores they own. If we start thinking about coffee at the airport and not in an absolute Sydney terms, it's a fine option for a caffeine hit on the go, just not one to savour.

In future I'm not sure why I went a latte in this situation. If I were you, go a mac, long black, espresso or piccolo and hopefully you'll see the bean at its best.

Scores:
1. Coffee score
Style (look and feel): 5/10
Experience (taste and smell): 5/10
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Coffee total: 10/20
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2. Cafe score
Style (what’s it feel like): An airport
Cool?:5/10 – I like airports and watching planes…
Service: 5/10
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Cafe: 9/20
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Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 19/40



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