Balmain's historic Fenwick building is now a harbourside cafe and gallery space.
A stunning new dining experience has arrived in Sydney's inner west, courtesy of restaurateur Bill Drakopoulos (Ormeggio at The Spit, LuMi Dining, Ripples Chowder Bay, Chiosco by Ormeggio and Jardin St James). The Fenwick, a heritage-listed waterfront building, has reopened as a cafe and gallery. It boasts sweeping harbour views, seasonal fare and exhibitions by local and international artists.
The tiny sandstone space was built in the 1880s and was originally used as a tugboat store. Heaps of private development proposals were rejected before the building was finally acquired by the former Leichhardt Council in 2003 (now part of the Inner West Council), thanks to a campaign by local Balmain East residents. After a restoration that cost millions, The Fenwick is now finally open to the public.
To us, the space better resembles a chapel — think a pitched roof, exposed timber beams and large barn doors that open out to views across Barangaroo, the Harbour Bridge and Luna Park. At the simple yet sleek cafe, co-owner and executive chef Davide Rebeccato (Aqua Dining) is serving up modern Australian eats with a focus on seasonal dishes.
For breakfast, expect scrambled eggs served on French toast and topped with prawns and eggplant; pulled pork breakfast burgers with fried egg and cabbage slaw; and poached eggs on sourdough with haloumi, mushrooms, avocado and kale. Apart from all those eggs, you can tuck into homemade granola with fresh fruit and berry compote pancakes with banana, coconut and pistachio crumble.
More refined fare is on offer for lunch, including pickled sardines, burrata with prosciutto and figs, and jalapeño kingfish with tiger milk. Larger plates feature snapper tail served in a lemon and garlic butter sauce; fish stew with fregola, olives and capers; and wild mushroom and black truffle gnocchi.
For the morning, the cafe is slinging Little Marionette coffee and cold pressed juices. Once the arvo hits, a specialty cocktail list will accompany lunch — it includes the Chamomile Kicker (chamomile-infused gin, elderflower liqueur, lime juice and egg), the Lavender Martini (gin, Amaro Nonino, lavender syrup and lime) and the Dark Chocolate Negroni (gin, Campari, Regal Rouge vermouth and dark chocolate bitters). Jugs of Pimm's Cup and rosé spritzes are also up for grabs, as are heaps of local and international wine by the glass and bottle.
Level two houses the public gallery, which will be open daily and offers regular exhibitions featuring local and international artists. Creative events held in partnership with other local galleries and community groups are also on the docket. Keep an eye on this space for upcoming exhibitions and events.