In the Annex
It's the cafe trifecta: expert coffee, a fresh, seasonal menu and conversation-worthy decor.
In the Annex is proof that Forest Lodge — that half suburb in between Annandale and Glebe, whose main drag Ross Street left much to be desired until now — is slowly catching up to its neighbours. The 30-seater joint's got the cafe trifecta: a bang on coffee dispensary manned by barista babes, a compact menu based on fresh, seasonal produce and conversation-worthy decor. And if our recent visit was anything to go by, we're not the only ones who've been charmed.
Flodge's newest kid on the coffee shop block's got it going on in large part due to the beans — Umami beans. A blend is used for milk-based coffee while a single origin, roasted slightly lighter, is used for black. The delivery of your morning pick-me-up is just as considered — flats and caps come in teacups while lattes come in science beakers. And while we're on the liquids, there's plenty more worth noting. In the Annex offers a colourful selection of freshly squeezed juice, frappes and smoothies with unique flavour combos akin to those you'd expect to find at some dreamy beachside resort. Try the grapefruit, ginger, tonic and honey frappe ($8) for fresh citric goodness; the kale, banana, coconut and chia smoothie ($8) for a taste of suburban Tropicana; or the almond, macadamia, cinnamon and rice milk smoothie ($9) for nutty indulgence.
And who's banging about the pans? That's a certain Joey Astorga (ex El Capo) whose seasonal menu caters for a number of tastes. Astorga's dishes are well executed and demonstrate a great understanding of portion control and ethical food processes — all eggs are free range and meats sustainably farmed. The best part? Chef's food is delivered by only the most amicable service. Win win.
The breaky burrito ($10) — scrambled egg, rice 'n' beans with guac and jalapenos — is perhaps the least inventive on the menu, but caught my eye nonetheless. For something more carnivorous, go for the cured duck, roasted Brussels sprouts, brioche and duck egg ($16). This baby looks like something you'd see served in a hatted restaurant and clearly demonstrates chef's inventive presentation, but the best part? You're free to dig in sans any obligation to do so with the refined poise often expected at aforementioned swank fest. Then there's the crumbed egg with bubble and squeek ($14), which is the hero dish in my opinion. Slice into the crumbed egg and warm yolk oozes out to provide the desired mess — a yolky mess to be mopped up by remaining mash, whole baby potatoes, peas, green beans and heirloom carrots.
Lest we forget to mention one more thing. It's a must you check out the In the Annex's goodie cabinet up front. A selection of sambos and sweet treats are readily available for those on the go. And if you're lucky, you might catch a glimpse of a few Hubba Bubba-flavoured lamingtons. Yeah, that's right. I just said Hubba Bubba-flavoured lamingtons. Do it.
Alas, no longer is Ross Street a cultural wasteland swarming with vacant shopfronts and barefooted students. In the Annex has amped things up and seems to be vibing on something along the lines of, "I've done this before, I know how to please you and I'm doing it for your own good." And to that I say thank you. Cue In the Annex: You're welcome.