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FOOD & DRINK

Sydney's Best New Cafes of 2020

Start your day at one of our favourite newcomers — there are gluten free bakeries in the inner west, sprawling urban farms on the lower north shore and vegan burger joints by the beach to explore.
By Concrete Playground
December 04, 2020
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Sydney's Best New Cafes of 2020

Start your day at one of our favourite newcomers — there are gluten free bakeries in the inner west, sprawling urban farms on the lower north shore and vegan burger joints by the beach to explore.
By Concrete Playground
December 04, 2020
  shares

SYDNEY'S BEST NEW CAFES OF 2020

Start your day at one of our favourite newcomers — there are gluten free bakeries in the inner west, sprawling urban farms on the lower north shore and vegan burger joints by the beach to explore.

2020. It's a year so difficult to summarise that even the Oxford Dictionary couldn't decide on a single word of the year. But in Sydney's hospitality scene, one in particular rings true: resilience. Despite months of restrictions and some devastating closures, its cafes managed to proliferate. And, impressively, they continue to push the boundary further. We've seen gluten free doughnut shops pop up in the inner west, sprawling urban farms open on the lower north shore and one of the state's best vegan burger joints appear by the beach. So, we're celebrating the good that's come from the past 12 months by rounding up the best new cafes to open in 2020.

  • 8
    Small's Deli

    Small’s Deli now occupies the hole-in-the-wall that previously housed French restaurant Mère Catherine (for 45 years, no less). New owners Emily Van Loon and Ben Shemesh have revamped the pint-size digs to create an Italian-style delicatessen with freshness as its focus. There’s none of that pre-made nonsense here. Instead, all Small’s sandwiches are built-to-order, and the offering changes regularly based on seasonality. Famed Bronte bakery Iggy’s is the bread of choice, and diners can purchase loaves of the stuff every Tuesday–Thursday from 11.30am (until sold out). House specialties include the croque monsieur — double smoked ham and dijon mustard with a blend of comté, béchamel and gruyère cheeses — and the fan-favourite Florence & the Aubergine: a panini piled with sopressa, eggplant, walnut paste, creamed pecorino and rocket. The tiny takeaway counter also displays charcuterie and cheeses, which are sliced to order and available from 11am. A daily rotation of salad bowls with house pickles, olives and labneh are up for grabs, too. And, if you’re looking for a new morning go-to, head in from 7.30am to grab a pastry and a cuppa — made using Reuben Hills coffee beans.

    Image: Leigh Griffiths

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  • 7

    There’s a new doughnut queen in town, and she’s doing things decidedly differently. After developing a gluten and dairy allergy back in 2017, Yu Ozone refused to give up on her love of food. Instead, she created Comeco, which is serving up gluten (and dairy) free sourdough doughnuts and vegan sushi to the Newtown masses. Since opening, Comeco has steadily garnered a cult following. All doughies are made using an organic brown rice sourdough starter, which gives the doughnuts a crisp exterior and a wonderfully chewy inside. Ozone’s favourite is the sweet-and-sour passionfruit custard, drizzled with fresh passionfruit pulp. You’ll see plenty of Japanese influence on the menu, too, including flavours like red bean, black sesame custard (made with house-roasted seeds) and matcha custard, which uses high-grade organic matcha imported from Japan. For a savoury twist, opt for the vegan curry doughnut. Once the weekend rolls around, the cafe serves up platters of vegan sushi, with varieties including chilli shiitake tempura, seven-spice tofu and aburi eggplant teriyaki rolls — that last one convincingly replicates grilled eel sushi. Comeco is also slinging Single O coffees and Japanese specialties like organic matcha and black sesame lattes.

    Image: Cassandra Hannagan

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  • 6
    Acre Artarmon

    After expanding south to Melbourne late last yearCamperdown’s Acre Eatery has ventured north and opened a sprawling plant-filled restaurant on Sydney’s lower north shore. Spread across 2000 square metres with 400 seats all up, Acre Artarmon is designed to educate and inspire its visitors, while putting them back in touch with the terroir of their food. That said, it’s not just a cafe, either. It’s also a bakery, restaurant, terrace bar and greenhouse-style functions space, surrounding by sprawling indoor and outdoor gardens. The Atrium cafe and bakery is serving up all of the usual suspects — croissants, pastries, country-style pies and sausage rolls — alongside salads and baguettes for lunch. Cuppas by Sydney’s Gypsy Coffee Roasters are also on offer, as is house-made gelato (in flavours like pavlova and banana dulce de leche). Designed by Sydney interior design studio Etic (Barangaroo House), the space is filled with curved planter banquettes surrounded by banana trees and a water fountain that doubles as seats, as well as greenery aplenty, with bougainvillea, fruit trees and vertical planters all making the cut.

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  • 5

    This south coast institution is now serving up its famed vego burgers and Mexican feasts by the beach in Bronte. First set up in Milton in 1980, Pilgrims is now a five-branch mini-chain. The reason Pilgrims does so well is that it takes simple vegetarian staples and makes them tastier than you thought possible — then hands them to you in generous serves. For breakfast, you can choose from from acai bowls, avo on Iggy’s sourdough toast, haloumi stacks and smoothies. Then, for lunch, its famed veggie burgers — think chilli jam and haloumi, curried lentil patties and mixed grain patties — are a must. On Fridays and Saturdays from 5.30–9pm, you’ll find the menu changes a little, with a Mexican feast on offer. Burritos, tacos, nachos and bowls all come stuffed and topped with the likes of beans, spiced potato, cheese and generous dollops of guac. Cocktails, wine and beers are on offer, too.

    Image: Kimberley Low

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  • 4

    While you’ll want to visit Sample Coffee’s new Chippendale spot to try its coffee and croissants, you’ll also want to check out its digs. Dubbed Old Gold, the cafe is located inside a converted MacRobertson’s confectionery factory — the OG makers of Cherry Ripe, Freddo Frogs and, yes, Old Gold. All the coffee beans come from Sample’s St Peters roastery, and are put to the test using the cafe’s gold-wrapped La Marzocco KB90 espresso machine. It’s brewing a selection of single origins and a house-blend dubbed ‘Sweet Tooth’ for all your flat whites. Local suppliers are keeping the kitchen well stocked, too, with fresh produce coming from The Vege Box, Leichhardt patisserie Penny Fours whipping up the croissants and bakers ThoroughBread supplying sourdough baguettes and bagels. For slightly more substantial meals, you’ll find the likes of broccoli sandwiches with fermented chilli aioli, grilled cauliflower and polenta salads, and house-made granola. Your four-legged friends are welcome here, too.

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  • 3

    Bondi’s Jewish deli Lox in the Box is serving up babka, cured fish, all the schmears and some of the best bagels our city has to offer. While the Bondi delicatessen is only open from Thursday–Sunday, you can order a box of bagels for delivery any day of the week. Choose from the signature bagel with pastrami-spiced lox (salt-cured salmon), capers, tomato and schmear; the hot salt beef with mustard and pickles; or the loaded ‘salad bagel’ with vintage cheddar, pickles, grated carrot, sliced beetroot, rocket and jalapeño schmear. For something a little extra, there’s also a panko-crumbed schnitzel bagel and one loaded with haloumi. You’ll want to grab extra of that tasty house schmear — it’s cream cheese whipped with lemon, dill and shallots. In store, you’ll also find filter coffees from Reuben Hills, iced bold brew and iced chai.

    Image: Kimberley Low

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  • 2

    Sydneysiders with a sweet-tooth should make tracks to Clovelly, where renowned pastry chef Yves Scherrer is now pumping out his goods at new patisserie and bakery Madame & Yves. Scherrer has worked across several of Sydney’s fine dining institutions, creating stunning desserts like Saké‘s much Instagrammed dragon egg dessert. While the dragon egg will not make an appearance at Madame & Yves, a few of Scherrer’s other famed creations do grace the menu — including the salted caramel eclairs from Ananas and the white sesame gelato from Saké. This leaves room on the menu for a whole heap of new creations, like the pear frangipane and piña colada tarts. There is also a whole host of croissants, from the classic ham and cheese, to a Ferrero version filled with hazelnut and dipped in chocolate. Plus, there’s a new dessert that’s making a splash on the ‘gram: Eclairzillas. They’re giant 40-centimetre-long pastries that require 48 hours notice to make.

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  • 1
    Stix

    A new cafe has opened along a quiet backstreet in Marrickville’s industrial heart, and it’s run by a hospo heavyweight you may not have heard of. Stix is owned by David Allison, whose catering business has been a favourite among Sydney’s best chefs for over 20 years — and whose certified organic farm supplies to some of Sydney’s top restaurants. The kitchen at Stix is filled with fine-dining chefs from restaurants like Sepia, Rockpool and Tetsuya’s. But here, they’re whipping up top-notch eats in a much more casual setting. For all-day brekkie, there’s prawn okonomiyaki with hibachi grilled blackfish, chicken and sweet corn congee and XO fried rice, which is made using pork and eggs from the Stix Farm and Hawkesbury River school prawns. Then, for lunch, there are eggplant katsu sandos with miso mustard and green tea noodles with ocean trout. Freshly baked goodies are also on the docket, such as slow-braised beef shin pies, and lamb and harissa sausage rolls. Alongside the open kitchen is a stunning coffee bar slinging cups of joe made using beans from Marrickville’s Double Roasters. And there’s a little ‘urban marketplace’, too, where patrons can buy fresh fruit and veg from the farm, along with smallgoods and ready-made meals to take home.

    Image: Cassandra Hannagan 

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Top image: Stix by Cassandra Hannagan

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