For most people, camping stoves are synonymous with two-minute noodles and tins of heated spaghetti. But for the blokes at The Hunter Works in Balmain, the simplicity of their setup is their strongest asset.
It's hard to believe that with only two hot plates and a free-standing grill these guys are able to dish up sautéed mushrooms with chorizo, a soft boiled egg and tarragon aioli on toast ($17) as well as soft-boiled eggs, house-made chipotle salsa, adobo spices and wild rocket on Brickfields sourdough ($15). Looking at their menu, it gives the sense that they spent their morning out foraging in the wilderness, building their menu around whatever produce they could find. And while this isn't completely removed from the truth — their menu is seasonal — everything is sourced locally.
They may not have needed to get their hands dirty, but these guys fit the description of hunter gatherers quite nicely, beards included. They make all their own jams, sell house-made dill pickles and use their own chilli sauce on vintage dishes like their house-smoked fish with radish, cos lettuce, fennel and snow peas ($21). Even their drinks are seasonal. On the coffee front, a selection of Sample beans are on rotation and each week they switch up the fresh juice they're serving.
Tucked away in a small courtyard that runs between two other buildings off Darling Street, The Hunter Works has turned a forgettable space into a little garden oasis. While the area doesn't get much sun, its darkness is certainly not a deterrent. Finding a place where you can enjoy a bit of quiet reprieve is a rarity on the busy Balmain shopping drag.
Alternatively, set up inside at the communal table where it's warm and cosy and the banter from the boys is strong. Just ask and they'll happily tell you about their latest jam concoction, which at the moment somehow even includes gin. Adding another feather to their bow, there's even talk that these hunters will soon be adding a hound to their cafe home.