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This Forest Lodge cafe takes the standard Sydney brunch menu to the next level.

The Loj is the newest addition to the budding Ross Street cafe scene and it's serving up some of the best breakfasts we've had in Sydney. Owned and operated by hospitality vets Barry Crowley and Kenneth Hiu, the duo take the standard Aussie cafe menu to the next level.

Crowley is in charge of the kitchen, which churns out dishes he's picked up during his long time in the restaurant biz and now made wholly his own. The menu consists of breakfast and lunch options you just can't make at home — well, unless you're an experienced chef with a lot of time on your hands. And let's face it: there's nothing worse than getting a mediocre avo smash for $17 and realising you could have made the same, if not better.

Luckily, not one dish on The Loj's menu will give you that sad, sinking feeling. Vanilla panna cotta replaces plain old yoghurt with their house-made strawberry granola ($15), and their hotcakes come gloriously topped with roasted seasonal fruit, lemon curd and a macadamia crumble ($17). Citrus-cured gravlax over green pea guacamole ($21) is good too; the ocean trout is cured in-house and is a truly perfect summer dish.

It's clear these guys are going for originality, and they're pulling it off. We haven't seen a dish like the Crispy Googy Eggs ($17) anywhere in Sydney a crumbed, deep-fried egg comes on a bed of greens and the best smoked ham hock we've ever had, and is topped with miso and smoked paprika mayo. Someone who can deep fry an egg and have it come out with the perfect gooey centre is alright in our book. In fact, we tried three different egg dishes and the egg was cooked to perfection in each. Now that's a sign of a great chef.

It's easy to tell so much of the menu is made in-house, and with fresh, seasonal ingredients at that — this includes all of the jams and peanut butter, as well as the baked cakes and muffins at the counter. Each dish is plated like a piece of art, proving that food really can be a thing of beauty, even in the most unassuming of cafes.

We'd be remiss not to emphasise the coffee side of things, which is Hiu's speciality. Sourcing their beans from Melbourne's Veneziano Coffee Roasters, the single origin changes weekly and Hiu turns out one of the best cold drips in town ($5.50). With some Sydney cafes skimping by on mediocre cuppas, it's great to see one do coffee so very right.

Published on January 19, 2017 by Marissa Ciampi

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