60-64 Reservoir Street
One of the perks of working in Surry Hills at the moment is the ability to step not far out our door and stumble upon ‘one of Sydney’s best’ – be it bars, restaurants, pubs, or in this instance, cafés. Single Origin Roasters is so much more than a café – for that reason this is a bit of a Bon Vivant 2-fer! This week I’ll be focusing on the café and next week you must, must, must check back for an in-depth look at the ‘Sideshow’ – a specialty coffee bar, purpose built to showcase alternative brewing methods to bring out the best in single origin coffees.
Single Origin Roasters (SOR) has become a bit of a rockstar in the coffee scene of late. The work being done in the café, Sideshow, roasting house and wholesale business saw them awarded 3 stars in the SMH Good Café Guide and also picking up a shout for Best Boutique Roaster. I make no secret of the fact that I think this place kicks arse. I tend to be overtly critical of cafés as, in general, I think they kind of suck. It’s difficult to find a place that will simultaneously make a decent long black from good, recently roasted beans and produce something fresh and tasty to eat. And so my love affair with Single Origin Roasters began.
At the end of the day, these kids are serious about their coffee. The Single Origin lot source, roast and blend premium and sustainable beans – never compromising on quality. Chef Matt Rothman echoes these thoughts in his menu, changing seasonally and focusing on local and sustainable produce from some of Sydney’s best suppliers. What has made it for me is that there’s no cumbersome cabinet full of pre-prepared, depressed sandwiches and containers of questionable ‘bircher muesli’. Time and effort is being put in to your food.
In a nutshell the winter menu is just one big old cuddle. With breakfast only running until 11 and my stupid schedule I have actually only managed one brekkie trip (sans camera I’m afraid). It was a ghastly morning too, and the Persian Spiced Baked Beans with Feta and Flatbread ($13.50) were just what the doctor ordered. Aromatic, nourishing, there ain’t nuttin like starting your day with a whack of spice. My dining partner opted for the Ocean Trout, Avocado and Sour Cream Bagel ($13.50) – which looked suspiciously Glick’s like to me, which is by no means a bad thing at all. We did, however, gaze longingly at the House Baked Brioche, Chocolate Sauce and Seville Orange Marmalade ($10.50) that arrived at the table behind us. Next time, for sure.
Salami, Olive, Provolone and Nettle Melty
A couple of weeks ago I took my far too difficult to impress 15 year old brother for a bite. Incidentally, we happened to be there at the same time as two blokes some of you may know – Rene Redzepi and Mark Best. Just hanging out, drinking espresso on a rainy Friday. Whatever. My brother ummed and aahed and we eventually shut him up with a Meatball Sub – veal and ricotta meatballs, tomato sugo and grana padano ($15.50). The meatballs were so tender and soft from the ricotta, but with bags of juicy flavor and the odd fleck of sweetness from a few currants I believe. And while baristas Joe and Charles tried to corrupt him with ristys (ristretto coffees – minds out of the gutter kids), it was the cold filter that won him over (but more on that next week). I, on the other hand, was definitely corrupted by some espresso tequila and the Salami, Olive, Provolone and Nettle Melty ($14.50). A good toasted sandwich is a beautiful thing and this bad boy has it all – oozy cheese, salty salami, earthy olives and the ‘God I’m so badass’ factor of eating nettles.
Intensely refreshing, cold filter coffee
Nonna’s Sunday Roast
It’s difficult to go past Nonna’s Sunday Roast – a gorgeous combination succulent roast lamb, pearl barley, cavolo nero and little pea gnocchi type things ($17.50). This dish reaffirms a little saying I picked up when I was living in Italy: una buona nonna vale cento maestre – a good grandmother is worth a hundred teachers. I’ve also quite enjoyed the Open Lasagna of Wild Mushrooms and Polenta ($16.50), because, you know, carbs on carbs is only a good thing right? Such a generous serving too, it stopped me in my tracks – but my buddy Steve had no problem picking up where I left off.
Poached Salmon, Celeriac, Horseradish and Watercress Salad
For me, the absolute knock out item on the menu has been the Salad of Poached Salmon, Celeriac, Horseradish and Watercress ($16). Before Danny and his ‘you don’t make friends with salad’ crew come after me, this salad is a real meal and a delicious one at that. Beautiful warm salmon, combined with remoulade style celeriac, backed with some heat from the horseradish and all rounded out with peppery freshness of watercress. It is the perfect thing to eat when you know you have to go back to work and kick some ass. I’m not a huge sweets gal but there’s a daily selection of sweet and savoury muffins, as well as a pretty tasty brownie from time to time. I have also heard brilliant things about ‘Sydney’s best lamington’ but I have as yet, not been lucky enough to grab one.
The space is small and inviting, with a certain edginess in it’s art (minus the typical Surry Hills pretension). Little benches and tables are strewn haphazardly on the footpath and side alley – something I’ve heard people lament, but personally I love. Just be careful lest you trip over a hipster. There’s a fantastic energy to the place, something I think you can put down to the staff. From Japanese barista royalty and pretty ladies, to professional tap-dancers and rockabilly boys with Zappa tatts – and of course, a chef who really is just bang on the money. It’s a place that celebrates Christmas in July with mulled wine and hot ham rolls, to the backing of Tammy Wynette and a little dubstep for ‘good measure.’ Given all the media attention around this place and head barista Shoji Sasa, there are naturally a lot of people flocking to it – so you may need to wait a while for a table. But chill out, it’s worth it. Plus there’s not a tired looking salad wrap or Byron Bay Cookie Company jar in sight. #winning
I know I haven’t touched on the actual coffee side of things too much, but check back next week as I tackle the Single Origin Sideshow. Big love and thanks to Chef, Matt Rothman and Baristas Joe Cutcliffe, Charles Cameron and Shoji Sasa for keeping me caffeinated (and I daresay, sane) the past few weeks. All the ristys have given me the nickname ‘Energizer Bunny’ at work.
Been to Single Origin Roasters? What did you think? Let me know email@example.com or on Twitter @bonvivanblog. These and more photos are also now up on our Facebook. And don’t forget to come back for part two next week!