Wednesday, 11 July 2012

La Piadina

Scores:
Coffee: 16/20
Whole experience (cafe + coffee): 30/40
Bean: Caffe Diemme

Does it go without saying that the best places are those that only locals know about? My naive knowledge of Bondi may have been made evident by my last post, however, on the second leg of my Bondi adventure I had the knowledge of a Bondi local to give me the inside word.

True to Bondi local form, my mate Saava meets me without shoes, quite hungover and highly confused as to why I had chosen to get a coffee at Sonoma earlier ("come on man, Inner West crap"). He, having grown up in the area (and remaining so), often tells me of the failings coffee from the Inner West (Campos take note on your cold take away coffee – Saava recommends asking for extra hot). He decided to take me to a café, which he assured me has some of the best coffee in Sydney.

As an Inner West kid I remained sceptical, but kinda excited that I'm finally getting into the Eastern Sydney coffee scene.

From Gould Street, we started walking north and slightly west, heading up Beach Road and then down Gleneyr Road to a little hole-in-the-wall cafe La Piadina. You'll notice La Piadia by the small seats and tables by the road or the queue going out the door.

Pushing our way in, we spot two seats by the window and make as much of a bee line as the space allows. Saava, being the great host offers me the shout (I go long black) and I sit back and take the place in.

The first thing you’ll notice about the place, the size excluded, is the humour the owners have, shown in their shop. I always find it funny that Italian coffee shops in Sydney often take themselves so seriously. While I’m sure this attitude this does wonders for the culinary side of the experience, it makes just coming in a grabbing anything but a full meal or a take away coffee a little intimidating (at least to me). La Piadina is anything but. The wonderful wood fire smell says ‘come in for a meal’ whilst the humour and quirkiness of the place (plus random dinosaurs) says ‘or just a coffee’. The second thing you’ll pick up is that this is a local’s local. Far enough away from the beach to get rid of the tourists close enough to make it cool for locals post surf. You’ll see the old espresso drinker, mixing it with the lycra clad cyclists with ease.

Saava comes back to the table and we pry open the huge window and take in Bondi like locals - just shooting the shit about life the universe and what not. Our convo goes on and it was at about the 5 min mark that we remember we should have coffees on the way. The line for takeaways had not slowed down one bit since our arrival and a quick check that our coffees were still in the production line confirmed they were not far off.

Our coffees come out with an apology and a large wave of the arm, gesturing at the ever-growing queue going out the door, ‘that’s cool’ we replied and we got stuck into the drinks.

My long black from first impression looked fantastic. The drink had a nice even and well distributed crema, with some great colouring to it, ranging from a darker brown to a golden to white yellows.

The aroma was deceptively good, initially I found it quite simple with a singular roasted aroma (Italian Roast) at which I assumed - oh shit another old dark roast. However, I found as I was putting down the cup that I was getting interesting whiffs of a nutty chocolate undertone.

Tasting wise, the roast did play a big role (as you would expect from an Italian style roast) however it was far less aggressive than you may expect from such a style. Mixed with this were some fantastic nutty chocolate flavours. It sat with a medium to full body.

Letting it cool (a Savva no, but a Rob yes) I found it developed something which could be a floral (maybe fragrant is a better term) flavour developing alongside the increasingly dominant nutty chocolate tastes. I found the drink to be reasonably well balanced, if perhaps a little acidic side.

I noticed, as we were finishing up, that the guy next to us had gotten a mug of coffee and whilst I do not endorse the large mug, its handle was that of a golden revolver. I would recommend.

Overall, it’s hard not to love this Italian hole in the wall. The service whilst slow, I am assured they are ridiculously friendly. I really like the attitude of the café, the look and feel, to me, gets the Bondi with a bullseye. The food looks great, although I did not try it, but would be down for a sneaky piadinas or two in future (keen Saava?) and the coffee captures the perfect Italian style roast. Whilst this kind of roast is ridiculously out of favour at present in Australia, any true coffee nerd would love the cheekiness of the flavours that emerges from this bean. It’s not my favourite coffee, but then again I am an urban yuppie and like less roast and more bean to my coffee. I do rate this as the best Italian Roast I’ve had to date.

Scores:
1. Coffee score
Style (look and feel): 8/10
Experience (taste and smell): 8/10
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Coffee total: 16/20
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2. Cafe score
Style (what’s it feel like): Italian dinosaur hole-in-the-wall cafe
Cool?: 8/10
Service: 6/10
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Cafe: 14/20
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Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 30/40


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