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FOOD & DRINK

Our Sydney: Here Are Our Readers' Favourite Spots to Visit in Alexandria and Rosebery

Visit left-of-centre cafes, experimental breweries and sustainably minded shops.
Flip the switch below and discover Sydney by day or night
By Melanie Colwell
December 23, 2020
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Our Sydney: Here Are Our Readers' Favourite Spots to Visit in Alexandria and Rosebery

Visit left-of-centre cafes, experimental breweries and sustainably minded shops.
By Melanie Colwell
December 23, 2020
  shares

OUR SYDNEY: HERE ARE OUR READERS' FAVOURITE SPOTS TO VISIT IN ALEXANDRIA AND ROSEBERY

in partnership with

Visit left-of-centre cafes, experimental breweries and sustainably minded shops.

Few areas of Sydney have gone through as much of a transformation in the past decade as Alexandria and Rosebery. What was once considered a mostly industrial area has seen swaths of commercial and residential development. First, former warehouses were converted into restaurants, creative hubs and entertainment spaces. Then came a futuristic new library and the food-filled laneway at Infinity by Crown Group. There is also an aquatic centre and a huge 6200-square-metre park in the works. It's an area in flux, which means it's a pretty exciting part of Sydney to both live in and visit. But, as is the case everywhere, this year has been incredibly difficult for the small businesses that operate here. So we teamed up with City of Sydney to ask you — Concrete Playground readers — what businesses you love to support in Alexandria and Rosebery.

Read on to discover some of the most popular picks to visit during the day. Then, flick the switch above and we'll dim the lights to show your favourite things to do once the sun goes down.

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    When we asked Concrete Playground readers to tell us their favourite spots in and around Alexandria, no shop, restaurant or bar received as many shout-outs as Social Society. The cafe is only relatively new on the scene — it opened in December 2019 as a tenant of Green Square’s new food precinct — but it’s quickly gained a loyal fanbase for its Pinterest-worthy fit-out and next-level dishes.

    The space was produced in collaboration with interior designer Blank Creatives. It’s a millennial dream with pink leather booths and curtains, neon signs and terrazzo tables. The menu features dishes that are as photogenic as they are tasty, so expect the likes of pink pasta with prawns, pickled beetroot and pink caviar cream, and eggs benedict served in a flaky croissant. But that’s just the start of the OTT options. You can also indulge in fried chicken and waffles with maple-infused gravy, ricotta pancakes topped with popping candy, and bone marrow served with charcoal garlic toast. And coffee is by Sydney-based roastery Gabriel Coffee.

    Image: @elleshungry, courtesy of Media in Action

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    The Drink Hive was at the forefront of the craft bottle-o movement which has since overtaken many Sydney suburbs. With a special focus on supporting artisanal producers from across Australia (and the world), the shop, based inside The Cannery, is where to visit if you want to add a little unpredictability to your liquor game — from naturally brewed mead to bottled cocktails and surprisingly tasty alcohol alternatives. As CP reader Quinn Connors points out, the store also has a sustainable angle, too. “They have refillable wine bottles that you can come back and trade in for a new bottle of whichever wines they’re pouring at the time. Less waste, excellent wine,” they tell us.

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    Pokemeow Cafe

    Pokemeow Cafe in Rosebery opened in late March 2020 right before the state government imposed strict lockdown measures in relation to COVID-19. Despite opening in one of the toughest periods that Sydney’s hospitality scene has ever faced, Pokemeow has proved resilient and captured the hearts of locals, likely thanks to its interesting business model. As Concrete Playground reader @mauricio.f90 explained, “I love having lunch at Pokemeow Cafe, watching their cats. It’s so relaxing. Also, great food”.

    They’re hugely popular in Asia (particularly in Japan), but if you’ve never been to a cat cafe before, here’s the deal: like all other cafes, you sit and enjoy a coffee and a meal — but you do so while watching little kittens play in an adjoining room through a glass wall. For a small fee, you can also enter the cat playground for a cuddle and a play with the furry friends. At Pokemeow Cafe, it’s $10 for a half-hour session, which needs to be booked in advance. In terms of the food offering, it’s mostly standard cafe fare — think smashed avo and a poached egg on sourdough, a brekkie burger and an acai bowl — though there are some outliers, like a crab and prawn gribiche croissant.

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    CP reader @hannahsager thought homewares megastore Koskela was worthy of a shout-out, and we couldn’t agree more. Operating out of a 2000-square-metre, 100-year-old warehouse, Koskela boasts the largest range of locally and ethically produced homewares, furniture, lighting and art in the country.

    Co-founders Russel Koskela and Sasha Titchkosky are committed to innovative, quality designs that have a low environmental impact, but a high social impact. Everything is manufactured in Australia to ensure good work conditions and fair wages and to reduce each item’s carbon footprint. Plus, ten percent of the company’s revenue is invested in Indigenous-owned art centres, which support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and makers to uphold their traditional practices. In the market for a new rug or piece of furniture, but don’t know where to start? The store also offers free consultations with its interior stylist both virtually and in the showroom.

    Image: Anson Smart

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    Within the same warehouse space as Koskela, you’ll also find Three Blue Ducks. This is the second Sydney outpost from the Ducks and is headed up by Masterchef Australia 2012 winner (and now judge) Andy Allen. According to CP Reader Tahlia Phillips, “Three Blue Ducks Rosebery is a big vibe for brunch”. They also suggest you “try to nab a seat in the leafy outdoor courtyard”. In keeping with the Three Blue Ducks ethos that tracks across its now five locations (soon to be six), seasonal produce and sustainability are at the core of its offering. See also: a smoky theme, thanks to a woodfired oven, charcoal pits and an Argentinian grill in the garden.

    If, like Tahlia, you visit for brunch, you’ll be treated to the likes of kingfish pastrami with sweet potato hummus, poached eggs and zaatar on toasted sourdough. Or, visit a bit later in the day to enjoy wood-roasted lemon sole with smoked anchovy butter; roasted chicken with burnt eggplant and braised chickpeas; and six-hour spit-roasted pig with chimichurri and jus.

     

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    If it wasn’t already obvious that locals love Alexandria and Rosebery’s cafe offering, this should settle things. You’ll find Welcome Dose inside The Cannery, and you’ll possibly smell it before you see it, due to the giant 1956 German coffee roaster that is set up directly on the shop floor. Yep, co-owners Kit Cheong and Michael Cookson roast all the coffee on-site, often during service hours so you can watch the action unfolding while you sip.

    CP reader @nikithompsonmilne recommended this spot as it has “the best coffee and interesting, yum food”. Pair your expert brew — or an amazake (traditional Japanese fermented rice drink) — with sourdough crumpets, a brisket sambo or a cheese and truffle toastie.

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    According to Samantha Teague, you “can’t go past pizza at Da Mario followed by a cocktail (well, many) at Archie Rose“. We’ll get to the cocktail part shortly. But first, pizza.

    Gracing many “Best Pizzas in Sydney” lists (including our own), Da Mario takes a traditional approach to its pizza: thin bases, puffy edges and minimal toppings. Samantha’s pick is the Melanzane, with tomato, scamorza (smoked mozzarella), eggplant and fresh oregano. Give the white-based pies a go, too, like the Mortdella, with fontina and crushed pistachio, and Gorgonzola, with mozzarella, mushroom and ham.

    Image: Kitti Gould

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    When it came to spots to enjoy an after-dark tipple in the area, Rocks Brewing Co was a popular choice for CP readers, including @jutt_young, @georgina_rob, @jesswinstonsmith, @jessicacurtis_ and @monioborn. Originally based in the CBD, the craft brewery made Alexandria its home in 2014, where it pumps out a whopping one million litres of beer a year.

    On a balmy afternoon, make tracks to the taphouse and nab a table in the 800-square-metre courtyard. The core range of brews is themed on Australia’s convict history; there’s The Hangman pale ale, The Governer golden ale, The Convict lager, The Boxer red ale, The Butcher porter and The Pickpocket cider. It gets experimental, too, so you may also be able to try a limited-edition pumpkin ale, a peach creme berliner weiss or feijoa gose.

    Image: Kitti Gould

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    According to CP reader @misskra87, Now Yoga is “the most incredible, inclusive community yoga space in Rosebery”. Studio owner Thy Monzo has been practicing yoga for over 15 years. Along with her team of certified teachers, Monzo offers an extensive timetable of yoga classes for all skill levels and interests.

    The signature Now session is a hatha-based yoga sequence in the main room, which is heated to 35 degrees using radiant heating panels. You can also try Now Flow, which is a vinyasa-based sequence in 33 degrees, or Flow in 31 degrees. Or, if you’re not into heated classes, give the Zen or Now LIIT (low-intensity interval training) classes a go instead. A single drop-in class is $25, or an unlimited membership is $70 per fortnight.

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    Archie Rose (Sydney) — Shortlisted for Best Australia and Pacific Bar 2015

    We’ve already mentioned that Samantha Teague name-checked Archie Rose, but they weren’t the only one. Concrete Playground readers @nikithompsonmilne, @up_anne_away and @katienelson_x also called out the distillery as a must-visit in Rosebery. When Will Edwards started Archie Rose in 2014, it was Sydney’s first distillery since 1853.

    You have a few options for how you experience this world-class space. You could just nab one of the barrel-inspired booths and order a tipple from the shiny copper bar. Or, opt for a one-hour distillery tour and tasting for $30 per person. There are also blend-your-own gin and whisky classes for $115 and $125 per person respectively, plus a bunch of other experiences and one-off events.

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    Tucked away in the residential backstreets of Alexandria, Pino’s Vino e Cucina would be easy to overlook as a standard neighbourhood restaurant. But CP reader @mlc1989 knows otherwise. “Pino’s is such a cute and cosy date night spot,” they tell us. It boasts a beautiful fit-out with a luxe L-shaped bar that runs the length of the main dining area, made with recycled timber from local houses, and bare brick walls adorned with copper pots from owner Matteo Margiotta’s parents’ kitchen in Rome.

    The menu features Italian fare with a twist and is designed for sharing — think octopus carpaccio with potato and smoked paprika ($28), squid ink spaghetti with lobster and tarragon ($65) and a one-kilo, grain fed black angus fiorentina ($99). The wine list is extensive and expectedly dominated by Italian drops.

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    It may not be as highly concentrated in one area, but the inner city certainly gives the inner west a run for its money when it comes to craft breweries. In Alexandria and Rosebery alone, there’s the aforementioned Rocks Brewing Co, Frenchies Bistro and Brewery and, since 2018, Yulli’s Brews. Well, the crew behind Surry Hills’ standout vegetarian eatery had actually been brewing from this Burrows Road warehouse for some time but opened its doors to visitors in late-2018.

    Selected by CP reader @jimmy_kay, Yulli’s Brews’ two-storey space regularly hosts live gigs and serves up tasty fare, wines and beers. You’ve likely seen (and perhaps tried) the Norman ale, Amanda mandarin IPA or Dolly guava berliner weisse at venues around the city, so use your brewery visit to try something more experimental, like the Chiho sake IPA or Gretchen maple kolsch. Everything, including the food and wine, is 100-percent vegan.

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For more small businesses to visit and support in Alexandria and Rosebery, check out our Day and Night Guide

Top image: Koskela, Trent van der Jagt; Rocks Brewing Co, Kitti Gould 

For more small businesses to visit and support in Alexandria and Rosebery, check out our Day and Night Guide

Top image: Koskela, Trent van der Jagt; Rocks Brewing Co, Kitti Gould 

 

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