If there's one place that trumps Australia in the brunch stakes, it's good ol' NYC. For the uninitiated, the city's take on the famed hybrid meal is, quite simply, on another level. It's decadent, lengthy and perhaps (note: definitely) a little boozy. As a self-confessed 'New York tragic', it's little surprise that Charles Cameron lists the city as a source of inspiration for his new venture Matinee Coffee. The new Marrickville eatery takes cues from NYC in a number of ways: it's open all-day, it serves booze — including neighbouring brew Grifter on tap — and it has an unabashedly bold fit-out.
Noting that he feels both Scandi and industrial styles have been serviced in the cafe scene — and he would know as a former owner of industrial haven Brewtown — Cameron had very different intentions for Matinee. To create the space, he teamed up with interior masters Luchetti Krelle. A jewel-toned colour palette tracks through orange table-tops, a crimson-tiled communal table, green velvet chairs and a mural on the back wall. There are references to old-school milk bars in the blue marmoleum flooring and a neon-lit menu above the coffee machine.
The venue takes full advantage of its corner location on Addison Road. An L-shaped counter provides Cameron a panoramic view of his domain, from the kitchen and timber banquette stage right to the large communal table and outdoor seating stage left. The theatre-speak is intentional: the eatery's moniker is one of several nods to show business, such as the red velvet-roped entrance and fringe chandeliers above the communal table. But it's not gaudy, it's considered — as is most of Matinee's make-up.
The entire menu fits snugly on one page. For drinks, coffee is a custom house blend by Collective Roasting Solutions, plus there are vegan shakes and the aforementioned alcohol. The majority of sweets — including a delectable lemon meringue tart and caramel slice — are vegan and gluten-free. In fact, tell-tale symbols for vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free appear all over the menu, again signalling a well-thought out approach, rather than a tokenistic one.
For the most part, the kitchen has avoided fads (à la cronuts) and instead does fresh takes on well-worn cafe favourites. The coffee-rubbed pork hash ($18) is flavoursome and the Persian rice kedgeree ($15) with currants, almonds and goat's feta is a winner, particularly when hacked with hot smoked salmon ($6). As a chilli fiend, the table staple habanero hot sauce (from local producers The Fermentalists) is a welcome addition to both dishes.
On the sweeter side, you've got a perfectly balanced apple, pear and rhubarb bircher ($15) and chocolate hazelnut brioche french toast ($16). Breakfast is available all day, but at midday the kitchen welcomes in lunch items including hot smoked salmon saffron pasta ($20) and dukkah roast sweet potato salad ($15).
Modern attention spans mean that Sydney folk often get bored quickly with new cafes. Let's hope the curtain stays risen on Matinee.
Images: Letícia Almeida