The quiet, leafy north shore suburb of Wahroonga has always been attractive, with its verdant, tree-lined streets and blossoming parks — but now it's even more appealing. The Butcher's Block is a sleek cafe that's serving the community an impressive breakfast and lunch six days a week. Formerly a butcher's shop for more than 70 years, its customers are now getting their wagyu beef on a brioche bun and flocking from all directions in order to get it.
The team behind this popular noshery is father and son duo George and Anthony Karnasiotis. Together they've done a fine job in recreating the pre-existing business, albeit making it a smart and chic eatery this time. Black-and-white tiles line the walls right throughout the long space, opening up to the light-filled shaded terrace out the back, and meat hooks, knives and sharpeners are suspended from the wooden beams above — salutations to its history. Waiters' aprons are the classic blue-and-white stripes, and an original butcher's knife is wedged into the bathroom door to act as a handle (don't fret, it's wedged in quite well).
In keeping with this butcher theme, the menu lends itself to good, hearty fare. The All Press coffee packs a punch (from $3) and a ruby sipper serendipiTea is a warming brew ($4.50). Young hearts will love the milkshake menu: suck down a snickers bar ($8) that's been whipped into a sweet, milky oblivion.
Hungry breakfast patrons will either eye off the 'feel good' bircher ($12) or go all out for a butcher's feed, complete with black pudding, spicy sausage and bacon ($22). Brasserie bread is good but steps up a notch in our books once you spread it with Pepe Saya butter and jam ($6).
Lunch time is when the place really heats up; despite it seating 80, expect to wait for a table if you've arrived on the weekend. Albeit the staff are deeply rueful for the inconvenience and kindly set up your cutlery and napkins after you've ordered — preparation perhaps for those who've ordered the wagyu beef burger ($20). The sizeable mountain oozes with smoky BBQ sauce— praise to the serviette. Same goes for the pumpkin risotto ($25) — wipe that truffle oil and Persian feta from your chin please.
Salad lovers will rejoice: a zesty lemon dressing jazzes up a quinoa salad of pumpkin and tomato ($17) and the Butcher's chicken Caesar salad is utter egg yolk porn ($17). Our pick of the sandwiches ($10) is the smoked salmon and cream cheese — not your average high tea version, that's for sure. Don't forget to order a side of chunky chips ($8), crispy and golden — just how they're meant to be. If you've come either side of a mealtime, spoil yourself with the dark chocolate mousse with orange brulee ($9.90): a chocoholic's melting point.
It might be further afield than your local favourite, but The Butcher's Block is worth a place at the top of your list — the mousse cake alone is worth the trip. Just make sure your companions are in a good mood. What with all those knives hanging about, it could get nasty. Is that why the staff were so friendly?