During my first two months in Down Under, I lived north of Harbour bridge in Sydney. First in Artarmon where I was a guest in my best friend’s studio flat and later in St. Leonards (Greenwich) where I had a room in a very big shared house.
I have to say straight away that I love the North Shore. There seems to be a sort of “discrimination” towards this part of the city, considered sometimes “too far” from the centre, “too posh and expensive” and in general “not very cool” (I have heard them all). I have to disagree. Maybe because my first approach to Sydney began in this area, maybe because I loved walking around finding little hidden bays or secret gardens, but I consider this part of the city beautiful, calm, picturesque, less chaotic and, last but not least, less touristy. Probably not the best for night life but, hey it’s difficult to have everything!
During my many initial wanders, I found and tried these four places for brunch which I consider to be great, thanks to their mouth-watering menus that don’t disappoint.
Location: 8/38-46 Albany St, St Leonards NSW 2065.
Very nice and popular coffee place, sadly closed on Sundays! We went there around 1230 for ehm very late brunch ooops, and the place was packed, with many people supposedly on their lunch break (or late brunch like us).
The place is homey and has plenty of tables both outside and inside as well.
We got the lunch menu so there is no such thing as breakfast all day here but that didn’t put us off in the slightest! The menu looked very appealing. As soon as we sat, a waitress brought us two glasses of water and another girl was making sure that our glasses were always full during our meal… if only that water was wine! Eheh Never mind, I do like their devotion to water here.
I ordered the Goat cheese, grilled zucchini, pumpkin, tomato, spinach and pesto aioli sandwich with chips while Sam went for the Lamb salad with Quinoa, honey roasted pumpkin, beetroot, baby spinach, pine nuts and yogurt. Mouth-watering just from reading the menu!
I am very positively surprised by the way people here experiment with food. I find very new and particular combinations of flavours that intrigue me, make me curious to try and ultimately, leave me very satisfied at the end. Probably because the fruit and vegetables taste soooo good here, there is no need to add too many creamy sauces or weird looking salad dressings. My sandwich was absolutely amazing, tasty, light, flavourful and the chips were not overly greasy. The combination of the tangy flavour of the goat cheese with the sweetness of the pumpkin, the crunchiness of the zucchini together with the softness of tomato and again of the pumpkin resulted in an explosion of flavour that satisfied my hunger for good food.
Sam’s salad was also delicious, the lamb fillet very tender and cooked rare at the right point. The quinoa and the beetroot added moisture and again the original combination of flavours was very satisfying.
We decided to treat ourselves further with a frappe’ and a juice, the difference between them (at least in this café’) being that the former is made with blended ice and fruit while the latter has ice cubes in it. Both are dairy free, which was a bit confusing initially, as the term “frappe’” evokes for me something mixed with milk. Anyway, the list of frappe/juices and smoothies as well is very interesting and appealing also. With names like “Beet Beauty”, “Tropical Beach” or “Bonza Brekkie” you are spoilt for choices and forced to smile at the names.
I had a “Like a Sunrise” frappe’ while Sam went for the “Beet Beauty” (yes, I did giggle while ordering it). Both were very good, mine being very refreshing thanks to the mint. As the glass was quite big and I couldn’t finish it, I asked to take it away and the waitress gave me a take away cup without batting an eyelash and so later on, I was still happily sipping my frappe’ while walking off from the lunch in the nice and foresty Lane Cove Bushland Park.
Oh and another plus of this nice café’ was the choice between small and large flat-white..yey!! big sizes are back in!!
THE MOODY CHEF CAFÉ’
Location: 1/30 Atchison St, St Leonards NSW 2065
There are actually three different locations of the Moody chef café’ in St Leonards, all being quite close the main station. I visited the one in Atchinson St…twice already!
It seems to be a very popular place in the area, I went both during the week and on a Saturday (it is closed on Sundays) and it was always busy. But both times the service we got was very kind and attentive.
The first time I went, I ordered the Baby Tomato and Bacon Bruschetta, with fresh basil, crumbled feta and two poached eggs. The saltiness of the bacon and feta is well balanced by the sweetness of the cherry tomatoes, eggs, and also by the aromatic basil, all in all resulting very fresh and light. The only downside for me was a little bit too much fresh onion (I do not like onion and I would have asked to remove it, had it been mentioned in the menu).
My friend Naz ordered the Zucchini and Feta fritters, with poached eggs, balsamic beetroot relish and Rye Blue Cheese croutons… and I obviously tasted it eheh. It was the first time I tried “fritters” (which it is just a general term indicating fried food in bite-sized portions) but I’ve soon learnt that these fried delights are quite common Down Under. Also her dish was very delicious, with the tangy taste of the beetroot relish making everything better.
The second time I visited the Moody Chef, I indulged in the super calorific, I-should-run-for-a-week kind of feeling generated by the wonder that was the “Strawberry and Rhubarb pancakes with Mascarpone, Pistacchio Crumble and Maple Syrup”. ‘nough said! It was as glorious as it sounds. Satisfying, very rich obviously but not sickly. So if you feel down for any reason and need a sweet treat to bring the smile back on your face, go for this one. It won’t disappoint you (but it will stuff you to the brim, that’s sure!)
SALVAGE SPECIALTY COFFEE
Location: 5 Wilkes Ave, Artarmon NSW 2064 (just outside the train station!)
This is one of those places that surprise you when you least expect it, firstly because it is just outside Artarmon train station (and normally cafés outside stations are not exactly gourmet places) and secondly because it is really small. It has tables outside, but if the weather turns ugly, it won’t accommodate many people inside!
The menu is fairly small but creative and interesting and they have a “weekend specials” board which changes weekly. They also different blends of coffee, both for espresso and filter. On their friendly facebook page, they keep you updated with their latest delights and news.
I don’t know whether this is still on or not, but on my first visit I had the amazing “Prosciutto wrapped chicken, pistacchio and cranberry terrine with sourdough and pickles with poached eggs”. Apart from the bread being too hard and not buttered (do I have to get used to it?) this well presented dish was very tasty, and the cranberries were a pleasant surprise (I have never really had them so much before), which combine really well with the pickles and the salty prosciutto. The filter coffee was amazing and the friendly and happy staff completed the picture of this trendy, little gem in the North Shore!
Location: 129 BluesPoint Road, McMahons Point NSW 2060, (Lavender Bay)
Me and Sam had a great breakfast in this place in the charming North Sydney area.
The day was sunny and great so we sat outside. The tables are bit on the small side, but not a big problem. The service was quick and kind. We had a flat white which was lukewarm but it seems to be the rule here eheh.
I ordered the “Mediterranean” which consisted in one toasted slice of seedy bread with baby spinach, halloumi, grilled tomatoes, two poached eggs and pesto with a reduction of balsamic vinegar…simply amazing!!! I also liked the fact that the halloumi was not too thick as It can sometimes be, so it was not too chewy.
Sam had a “big brekkie” and was also positively surprised by it. Classic, with good sausages and very tasty hashbrowns.
All in all it was a nice place, nothing special regarding the decorations or similar, but good food and kind service was all we were looking for! And it is located just walking distance from Lavender Bay, which is a lovely area, good for a walk after the food binge!
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