Marrickville's much-loved Cornersmith has just opened a second cafe in Annandale — much to the pleasure of the throngs of happy locals who have already found their way to its new home. Alex Elliott-Howery and James Grant are the partners behind this family-run business, which, apart from the two cafes, also includes a picklery, a cooking school and a cookbook. Their holistic focus on ethical and sustainable production of food and business practices is certainly a step up; unlike so many other Sydney cafes, they don't just talk the talk — they walk the walk too.
The decision to open a second venue was more fate than choice — the owners of nearby Annandale institution Fat Fish tapped the husband and wife duo on the shoulder and the two, not surprisingly, fell in love with the gorgeous space and location. "We're inner westies and liked the idea of expanding to another neighbourhood with a strong community that is in-line with what we're about," says Elliott-Howery.
The airy, bright cafe has the same local, independent feel of the Marrickville shop — and has perhaps more of a family appeal than a hipster one. Its proximity to the park is perfect for their takeaway picnics on offer ($40 for two people, $65 for four); the picnic box includes a selection of cheese (which changes weekly), chutney, butter, a salad, seasonal fruit and — of course — pickles, with a sourdough baguette to top it all off.
The seasonal menu is designed alongside the one at its sister cafe, and — like Marrickville — a chalkboard notes which producer each items comes from. All the dishes are vegetarian. The most accurate comment you can say about the food here is that it is honest — the dishes are prepared in a simple, straightforward manner that lets the produce really shine.
The Cornersmith plate ($18) does this particularly well and specifically highlights the cafe's pickle fetish with apple and radish slaw, pickled fennel, fresh labneh and charred leeks, all served with perfectly toasted sourdough. The spring toast ($17) is another winner and features charcoal bread by the Botany-based, gluten free geniuses at Nonie's. The dish is topped with an impossibly creamy buttermilk ricotta, Cornersmith's pickled baby eggplants, broad beans, peas and herbs. On the drinks side of things, the coffee is solid and the seasonal sodas and juices are the perfect cooling agent on a warm day — the cucumber and basil soda is especially tasty ($5-6).
We can't get enough of sustainable brunch spots and, like the Annandale locals, we're happy to see this philosophy extended to another neighbourhood.
Images: Joshua Morris.