The team behind popular Newtown cafe Cuckoo Callay and Crown Street restaurant Nour have opened a second Cuckoo Callay outpost in Surry Hills, taking over the now-closed Ampersand Cafe space with a refined revamp of their beloved brunch spot.
It's easy to see that owners and restaurateurs Ibby Moubadder and Ella Harris have had their hands full with the opening of Lebanese fine-dining spot Nour in 2016 and with the second location's opening coinciding with the annual Bacon Festival. "We weren't really looking to open another restaurant since we just opened Nour, but we saw this location and just loved it so we jumped on it," says Harris.
The fitout is still Cuckoo at its heart but has been given a bit of a Surry Hills refresh by Giant Design (The Capsule Hotel, Sugarcane Coogee, Eastside Grill). While their signature magenta colour palette remains and a few neon slogans run up the stairs, the aesthetic is otherwise luxed up with velvet curtains, white marble and brass finishes. "The design has a more Surry Hills feel about it and is a little bit more grown up and refined," says Harris.
The menu follows suit, with head chef Jason Black (ex-Bathers Pavilion Restaurant) at the helm. While a few of the original favourites remain — like the Bacon Macdaddy, a croissant stuffed with double smoked bacon, bacon mac and cheese, fried egg and bacon tomato jam — the rest of the menu is completely new. There's the She's My Cherry Kewpie, a karaage chicken burger topped with wasabi mayo and nori strips on a milk bun, and the Mr Pinchy, a lobster tail version of eggs benny with tom yum hollandaise, avruga caviar and fried curry leaves, all atop a squid ink english muffin. Yup, it's all pretty indulgent.
Brunchers with pups will be happy to know the dog-friendly menu is also expanding, adding pupcakes to their pupachinos among other dog treats. The Surry Hills outpost isn't simply dog-friendly, either — Harris's own new puppies will act as mascots for the space and be at the cafe most days.