John Smith Cafe, Waterloo

I eat out a lot. And I mean A LOT! So much so that when people ask me for recommendations, I sometimes find it hard to give one – one meal seems to meld into another and they all become difficult to remember. Every once in a while though, you come across a gem that stands out from the crowd. I found that gem at John Smith Cafe.   
Thanks to Lizzie, a couple of weeks ago we got a ‘do over’ day and the weekend magically became two Saturdays and a Sunday with Monday never to be seen again. After checking via Facebook message that they were indeed open on this mystical of days, my friends and I arranged to meet at 10 am for brunch. 

We picked a good time as John Smith Cafe is anything but a John Doe. In addition to popping up on blogs everywhere at the moment, their Instagram and Facebook feeds have a ton of followers. 

  
And its’ popularity online ensured it was comparably busy in life. Thankfully the very nice waiter (who called me darling :)) assured us it was a two minute wait… And it was!!! In no time we were settled in one of their comfy booths, ordering coffee and left to stare at the display case of delicious cronuts and pastries while we waited for our friends. 

When it came time to order, we did this quick smart. It’s quite short and produce driven so it also changes constantly. No mushrooms I’m afraid (disaster) but what I did have was divine!! Two pieces of seeded sourdough, smothered in avocado salsa, crumbled goats cheese and a chilli jam that was a sauce from heaven – gorgeous and sweet with the mildest punch of heat. I got sides of seasonal greens and a poached egg. My friend who got hard poached eggs on toast admitted to serious food envy although she said hers was nice too. 

  
The other girls got the granola with coconut yoghurt and a nice big block of berry jam/jelly (potayto potarto). Rich but not overly sweet, it was nutty and very enjoyable. 

Two other major positives- they let us linger (which was crazy and very nice given the number of people waiting) and since it’s located just off Botany street, there was parking!

I think a return visit is on the cards. If you eat out a lot – you have to pick great places to make it worth it and John Smith definitely was! 

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Eathouse Diner, Redfern

I think it was Shakespeare who said “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”. I wonder if food by any other name would be as tasty? Well for Sunday breakky with my awesome cousins (one of whom used to be a professional chef) I wasn’t going to risk it. I picked Eathouse Diner as the scene of our catch up – it’s purpose is all in the name!

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Located in East Redfern on Chalmers street, this charming venue with stuffed koalas, mint green walls and fairy lights has been open for lunch and dinner for a while now but has only recently opened its doors for breakfast. It’s so new I don’t even know the locals know about it! Getting a table just after 10am was dead easy – we were one of only two groups sitting but as the time crept towards lunch, the place filled up.

The menu is succinct, very well priced and boy is it tasty!! The random box of rubber, bloodied, severed hands that happened to be just lying around couldn’t even put us off.

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One cousin when classic and got scrambled eggs on toast with tomato relish and baby rocket ($12). I’m not a big scramble fan but these looked creamy and were apparently delicious. I also have it on good authority that the relish was top notch. Two others at the table ordered the huevos rancheros ($16) – a spicy concoction of beans, onion and tomato, hidden beneath two large fried eggs and topped with guacamole, coriander and sliced jalapeño. This hotty pattoty was warming and filling and the tortilla it was served with made it fun to eat. Not for the spice allergic!

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I went with the ricotta fritters served in tomato, red pepper salsa, topped with Parmesan ($14). This was quite a surprise. I expected hotcakes – Bill Granger style and ended up with little arancini looking balls of cheesy goodness. I loved that they felt the need to top this dish with more cheese. It was definitely an awesome pick, especially as I’d been considering the Bircher muesli. Golden and crunchy on the outside, smooth an creamy inside, all these needed was a bit of salt.

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In addition to the food, another highlight, and I really don’t say this often (if ever) are the toilets! The decor is just too awesome! Who doesn’t want to pull their hand towel off a French waiter roll holder?

Add some really nice and friendly staff into the mix and the place is a winner

Burnt Orange, Mosman

love getting spoilt, and on my birthday this year, two of my besties spoilt me rotten by taking me to Burnt Orange cafe in Mosman.

Located in the back of Mosman, as far away from Military road as you can get while still on land, making your way down the bush path; intuitively you know something special is waiting at the end.

How people first found out about Burnt Orange and then located it on a map I have no clue, but they definitely did. Looking around at my fellow diners, they’re young, they’re gorgeous, and there are a lot of them. Coming here on this particular Saturday morning; the sun is shining; the view is spectacular, and it’s a full house.

Formerly a residence, the beautiful plantation style house has been transformed into a restaurant/cafe serving breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea to its hungry guests. A multitude of white washed wooden tables are situated along the large, wrap around, wooden balcony; and the vine patterned cream and green wall paper emphasises the country manor feel. We could be ladies brunching in a bygone era.

We were lucky to secure a table In the sun and with a light breeze. It’s bliss.

All being self-proclaimed foodies, we had all studied the menu online, so ordering with the courteous waiter was a quick affair.

The pancakes with ricotta and strawberries ($16) were a delectable dish. Also coming with a bacon option, they were stacked three fluffy disks high, and they were very generous in size.

The fetta, tomato and mushroom toast ($15) was also delicious. A deceptively simple dish, the mushrooms were perfectly grilled and not at all greasy; and the herb infused feta was it’s star. Served with two massive pieces of sourdough, I was in heaven.

The only disappointment was the breakfast board ($19) – a very small dish, particularly in comparison to the size of the board on which it was served. The majority of the elements present were nice, but they just didn’t seem to go together. Most of this dish was left behind.

After eating, I discovered the fun wasn’t over. The entire two story house interior has been transformed into a boutique shop where one can purchase anything from handmade jewellery, clothing and blankets to decorative items and home wares. Expensive but gorgeous.

It was a great start to the weekend, and an even better start to a new year. Makes me it excited for what’s yet to come!

Rating: 9/10

Where: 1108/1109 Middle Head Road Mosman NSW.
Why: great location, food and shopping.
Cost: $15-$21
When: 7 days from 8.30am

Good for kids: Yes
Take away: No

First Drop Cafe, Redfern

First Drop Café, located at the slightly naughty address of 69 Baptist Street is playing a big part in the rebrand of Redfern as Sydney’s newest foodie destination.

Around the corner and up the road from Kepos Street Kitchen, and frequented by the likes of Timomatic; a meal at the ever busy café is not for the faint hearted. With portion sizes better suited to body builders and a menu filled with unique and delicious options; you’ll never go away hungry or disappointed.

Case in point - Ricotta breakfast

Case in point – Ricotta breakfast

The very relaxed (aka slightly slow) food service is amply compensated for by romantically named dishes such as From Paris with Love ($17.90), a rich tomato-ey concoction of roasted capsicum, eggplant, kalamata olives and free range bacon topped with two poached eggs; or the Athenian “Get into the Greek” ($17.90) Dried figs, haloumi, watermelon slices, organic yoghurt, spanakopita (spinach pie), walnuts and shavings of kefalograviera cheese.

The Schwartzerneggar Omlette

The Schwartzerneggar Omlette

Though no option is a bad option, yet for a truly special breakfast moment, our pick is the Rustic Chorizo Breakfast and Scrambled eggs with free range chorizo, sprinkled with paprika, sitting on a bed of fresh spinach, and topped with an onion jam served with sonoma sourdough.

and I'm full

and I’m full

The best bit, with most dishes priced around the $17 mark, it won’t break the bank to begin the day with a meal that would satisfy even the most ravenous of friends.

Café interior

Café interior

First drop is easy to get to with a well frequented bus stop right across the road, and Central station just a 20-minute walk away. Given the amount of food consumed, I think I might take that walk….

Rating: 8/10

Where: 69 Baptist Street Redfern NSW
Why: Massive, tasty breakfast options.
Cost: $16-18
When: Breakfast and Lunch

Good for kids: No
Take away: Yes

Gertrude and Petunias, Kensington

A new café has joined the Kensington food scene, and she’s a real genteel lady. Two ladies actually.

Go to dish-French Toast with Strawberries and Ricotta

Go to dish-French Toast with Strawberries and Ricotta

Gertrude and Petunias, launched in late 2013 is a departure from the eclectic Asian cuisine and university student food fare one has come to associate with the Kensington area. Tucked halfway up Todman Avenue away from the hustle and bustle of Anzac Parade but just as central; this café offers a classy option for breakfast or lunch.

When asked about the name, the owner answers “I don’t know, my wife picked it. I guess because It’s old fashioned,” and old fashioned is the word that perfectly describes this new Kensington addition to a T…a grandmothers cup of tea that is.

Settling ourselves down at an intimate table for two, we try to ignore the display of pastries and cakes all made in house that have been set out in a large glass cabinet that lines the entirety of the front counter. No matter which way you spin it, brownie is not breakfast. Instead we apply ourselves to the menu.

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Unlike many new cafés today, the selection is relatively small, limited to one page for breakfast and one for lunch with all the classic dishes accounted for. Avant garde foodies might be disappointed that no food trends are being followed, here but as we soon discovered; the items they do have are done exceptionally well. No matter what you order, you won’t be disappointed.

This morning, we couldn’t go past the Granola ($12) – layers of rolled oats, seeds, nuts, berry compote and the most flavoursome vanilla yoghurt ever tasted artfully served in a mason jar along with the strawberry and ricotta French toast ($12); together with three pieces of cloud like brioche soaked in honey, giant and delicious. We paired these with a festive Christmas spices tea and large long black. The constant stream of coffee takeaway orders attesting to the quality of the caffeine.

With ordering done up at the counter and food served to the table; it doesn’t take long to receive our meal, and the staff, including the owner were all exceptionally helpful and friendly; taking the time to take us on a guided tour of their tea selection which is too extensive and exotic to be listed in full on the menu.

A wall of mirrors

A wall of mirrors

In contrast to the menu, the decoration is elaborate with floral wall paper, plush sofas and an abundance of gold gilt framed mirrors lining the walls. Walking in, one leaves the real world behind and enters an oasis reminiscent of a Victorian tea house crossed with a touch of French glamour. It’s not hard to imagine Marie Antoinette entertaining her ladies in waiting in a setting such as this.

The only negative, there is no onsite toilet which makes lingering a little problematic.

A little bit posh, and a little bit classy – Gertrude and Petunia’s is a decedent beginning to your day. Something we highly recommend.

Rating: 9/10

Where: 61 Todman Avenue Kensington NSW.
Why: French Toast with Strawberries and Ricotta
Cost: $6-$12
When: Breakfast & Lunch, 7 Days.

Good for kids: A bit small for kids, but friendly staff would accommodate.
Take away: Yes