Whenever I am asked about the cafe scene in Sydney, Surry Hills is the area which comes to mind.
What intrigues me most about Surry Hills is its sprawling nature; stretching its arms out wide in all directions, giving even the oddest corners a geographical tag. Just past the finger tips of Surry Hills lies a more placid environment with pockets of foodie gold.
I was fortunate enough to catch up a few times with the beautiful queen of brunch @eilxrrr_ on my trip to Sydney and explore the Surry ‘Outskirts’.
Cafe Cre Asion
21 Alberta St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Our first trip was to an old favourite, Cafe Cre Asion. My first spiel on this gem was way back around the genesis of ‘hello it’s ming’ and it soon became part of my weekly routine, so much so that Yu-San and Wahn would say ‘muffins’ whenever I appeared.
When pairing a tempting menu with a display of baked goods and a food duo not afraid to order for maximum filling of the stomach, the dining table can become quite ‘happening’. Luckily for @eilxrrr_ and I, we were able to secure two tables at this little place.
On the table was the Mushroom and Cheese Tart (from the display), Scrambled Eggs with an overload of bread and the House Salad with Smoked Salmon.
The pastry of the Mushroom and Cheese Tart was flaky, not overly buttery and complemented the main stars of this comforting bite! I feel that the Japanese influence from Yu-san leads him to tone down on the usually heavy flavours and textures that can come with typical western baked goods and dishes.
Too many times I had met with lack-lustre scrambled eggs and eventually gave up hope…until this. Not too soggy nor too laden with cream and with the perfect touch of saltiness, I found my favourite ‘Sydney Scramble’. As Cre Asion is normally an ‘on-the-go’ cafe, the scramble had been divided up onto easy to eat with one hand pieces of the home-made bread. Awesome.
Being with an egg fanatic, the boiled egg with its runny yolk present in the House Salad was a welcome addition. The acidic dressing and the fresh fennel made this a salad I would definitely come back for.
After this we were too full to order desert…. said no one ever!
Therefore, we ordered what is now, the most photographed Matcha Fondant in Sydney. This dome of heaven encases flowing Matcha innards. @eilxrrr_, who is well versed in the art of Matcha authenticity was very impressed with this and had a sneaky suspicion that Yu-San had brought the Matcha in from Japan. This is of course unsurprising; this chef is very meticulous. I am slightly heartbroken that I did not have the chance to try this with the Matcha pour that it is now served with but you know, there is my reason to head back to Sydney again!
144 Cathedral St, Woolloomooloo
After much deliberation and selection on the next foodie meet destination, @eilxrrr_, @hosikah and I headed to John Montagu in Woolloomooloo, the quieter suburb a stone-throw away from the Surry Hills boundary.
On a chilly Saturday morning and unbeknownst to the individuals who thought they were escaping the ‘crazy’ of Surry Hills, we were greeted by a busy scene!
Known for their epic sandwiches and coddled egg, John Montagu has really made its mark on the Sydney cafe scene. We opted for The Salmon, The Mushrooms Part 3 and the Bacon and Egg Roll.
(Note: John Montagu is the name of the sandwich game as he is thought to be the inventor of the lunchbox/on-the-go/healthy/indulgent staple)
I had a case of deep food envy when I sampled @eilxrrr_‘s The Salmon; a lighter option with avocado, vichyssoise, nori salmon roe and cream cheese rye toast. The vichyssoise was en pointe; light but yet still slightly creamy.
The Mushrooms is the cafe’s menu mainstay, receiving frequent developments. I wouldn’t recommend this dish for those averse to rocket as there really is quite a decent serving of it! Luckily I love my greens! Nevertheless, fresh mushrooms, cooked perfectly and accompanied by a coddled egg had me in a happy place.
@hosikah‘s Bacon and Egg Roll looked great if after something simple and no nonsense!
To be honest, everything on the menu at John Montagu was 100% tempting. Normally I am not one to visit a ‘sandwich cafe’, perhaps due to sandwich overload over the course of school lunches, but going by the reviews I’ve heard and my own experience, I would happily return to try all their other goodies. Oh and of course it helps that all the staff are friendly and there were warm smiles from behind the kitchen counter.
Flour & Stone
53 Riley Street, Woolloomooloo
NEXT UP, we digested on our power walk over to Flour & Stone, one of the most consistently praised bakeries that has popped up in Sydney in recent years. The labour of love of Nadine Ingram, a pastry chef with Le Gavroche, MG Garage, Bourke Street Bakery and The Ivy in London on her resume, this humble place rings true to a passionate and heartfelt creation. You can sense the dedication placed into each item due to Nadine’s personal creation for her daughters.
I’ve never been one for Lamingtons but by some miracle (I may have been plagued with fear by those supermarket types in school time bake sales), Flour & Stone managed to change this! We breathed a heavy sigh of relief when we saw that this signature item was still available on arrival and savoured the balanced sweet tones of the cake and jam accompanied by the texture of fresh coconut flakes.
With conversation comes learning and during our visit to Flour & Stone, I learnt something new about @eilxrrr_. She is on the hunt for Sydney’s best Carrot Cake. Take note fellow foodies to send any suggestions her way. This particular rendition was certainly one of my favourites as the cake was crumbly and not overly dense with the carrot making its strong presence known. Additionally, the icing was not that sickly sweet and rich type, which I feel can overpower a good carrot cake.
Finally, the Canelé. I first saw this when it was ‘grammed by the awesome coffee/donut/fried chicken/ramen/pastry expert @ramenraff. As strange as this may sound it really is a petite and adorable baked item. A crispy and firm exterior gives way to light and but slightly chewy innards. I don’t know what it is about the recipes used at Flour & Stone, but they really manage to avoid the sugar overkill in all of their items, making this Canelé live up to expectation!
I must confess though, that the Lamington has been ingrained in my tasting memory and was my pick at Flour & Stone; most definitely something that I hope to share with the family on our next Sydney trip together.
Although I wish it needn’t, this little feature on my adventures around the Surry ‘Outskirts’ is coming to an end.
It is always a pleasure dining with @eilxrrr_ and I couldn’t have picked a better partner in foodie crime to explore the ‘outskirts’ with; chatting about our high school days and our future plans with a side of culinary appreciation. Thank you!
Until next time!