It’s been a rough week and we’d like to sit down with a good meal and a good drink in a casual setting. Is that so much to ask? Let us be your Sydney café booze cruise director (captain hat on tilt and sleaze tucked squarely away).
Aside from an absolute beauty of a bacon and egg roll, Laneway Café also rock a mean lunch menu with The Hills cider and a wine menu that's so reasonably priced it'd be wrong not to try more than a glass with your brunch. Their latest spring special of slow cooked lamb shoulder (with roasted parsnip, chickpeas, pomegranate salad and mint yoghurt) also goes down a treat. Sit back in one of Cammeray’s well-earned favourites and prepare for people watching with a side of cider.
We’ve never seen a soft shell crab burger look so damn fine. In fact, our mouths have dropped open without us even realising. Described as a rustic dining experience hailing back to the end of the 18th century, Bowery Lane is filled with farm-fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients. When you’ve found a café in Sydney whose whisky menu is divided into five categories, you take notice. We’re not going to even suggest trying the watermelon and basil martini, if you don’t order one we might have to reconsider this whole friendship thing. Alright fine, if you order the Southside Gangster (Tanqueray gin, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, lime juice and mint), we can still be boozy buds.
White Rabbit Charcuterie
This café and bar in the heart of the CBD is doing tasty, tasty breakfasts, charcuterie and filling lunches. They also do wine, which is a big win if you need a little somethin’ somethin’ to accompany your meal. An extensive wine list (we’re talking 150 variations) is on rotation with different wine available at each sitting—just ask your waiter. Aside from the wine, you definitely need to try the 36-hour braised lamb pie (white rabbit dark ale, crispy butter pastry) and/or grilled baby octopus salad (chorizo, olives, roasted almonds)—they’re deeelicious!
The Tea Room
Fancy a tipple? Order a carriage, hoist your skirts and head on down to The Tea Room. Located in the QVB, The Tea Room is our choice of places to indulge—think a little more class and a few less loaded milkshakes. It’s our favourite for an arvo of finger sandwiches, cakes, pastries, scones, tea, bubbles and reciting the same three lines from Downton Abbey—we kind of tuned out, sorry. Aside from teas like wild cherry, oolong and red roses, visitors can delight in a range of Champagne or Australian Sparkling with their morning or afternoon tea, or more with the exquisite lunch options on weekdays.
The Moody Chef
The Moody Chef has long been a favourite of the North Shore crowd. The inaugural café on Atchison Street has simply burst with popularity resulting in a Kiosk Espresso Bar and second café just down the road. Fave refreshments include the Italian prosecco, Little Creatures Bright Ale, Flametree Sauvignon Blanc Semillion (Margaret River) and Teusner Shiraz from the Barossa Valley. In between a cheeky beer or cider, punters can try out the spring menu of coffee pork belly and poached eggs, zucchini and feta fritters with poached eggs or banana bread pancakes with Nutella. The word ‘Nutella’ may have erased all that you previously read; we’ll wait while you have a re-read. Take your time.
A Bondi café known for living up to its Instagram vibe (seriously, check it out), Speedo’s ply customers with their favourite beers, Delle Venezie wines and to balance it out, smoothies with names like Grassy Knoll, Lazy Summer and Energiser. Never has a café straddled the line between decadence and health so finely. The Rueben sandwich (brisket, sauerkraut, thousand island dressing and gruyere cheese) versus the seared salmon fillet with zucchini noodles exemplifies this quite well, don’t you think?
The Boathouse Shelly Beach
Despite being the youngest sister of Palm and Balmoral Beach Boathouse Cafés, The Boathouse Shelly Beach is just as impressive. There’ll be no youngest child syndrome here, in fact, it’s so good you’ll find yourself peering over at other tables re-thinking your order with every other breath. After snapping up the Boathouse burger, 400-gram aged rib-eye or a coconut sorbet (pine nut crumbs, banana cream, honey panna cotta), say à votre santé with a glass of bolly or a Boathouse Mai Tai (Mount Gay Eclipse Rum, pineapple, ginger, vanilla, lime).
Three Williams’ offering to our café-style booze cruise is a wine-list available at an altruistic 10am. All that’s missing are dark shades and mystery selfies to complete the perfect picture for hair of the dog drop-ins. We’re finding it hard to look past a rosé named Krinklewood but if you can tear your eyes/childhood wonder away, you’ll find the whites don’t disappoint either with a Slipknot sauv blanc and admonition to ‘pimp our soda’ with a shot of voddy or gin. Nothing left to do but sit back, enjoy the warehouse-style digs and chow down on blue swimmer crab spaghetti.
Originally opening their Surry Hills café in 1996, bills is not only an oldie but a goodie, but they’re absolute wizards at the most dangerous game known to any man Sydneysider, real estate. They got in early and held on, smart move. Try a white peach bellini (prosecco, white peach puree) or spiced bloody Mary (Korean chili, clamato, lime and coriander) in between mouthfuls of coconut chicken salad (nashi pear, watercress, chili, avocado) and/or ricotta hotcakes (banana and honeycomb butter).
Kepos Street Kitchen
Kepos Street Kitchen love to eat, cook and more importantly feed hungry diners in search of a Mediterranean dish with a Middle Eastern twist. Located on Kepos Street, Redfern, KSK offer drinks like the pama royal (sparkling wine, pomegranate liqueur, wild hibiscus flower), elderflower gimlet (Hendricks gun, St Germains elderflower liqueur, fresh lime) and the winner of Best Ever Cocktail Name: the raspberry breakfastini (raspberry puree, raspberry vodka, dry vermouth). If you’ve somehow managed to persuade us that a breakfastini is not in order, we’ll dabble in the salted caramel churros or Tunisian style seared yellow fin tuna (with eggplant, tomato, cucumber, egg, potato and harissa dressing).
The Book Kitchen
This café in Surry Hills is a bit of a staple among locals. Try the trio of corn fritters or chickpea battered fish of the day (bitter leaves, apple, green beans, herbs, romesco) with a bloody Mary, Pimms cocktail or Murray’s Whale Ale—on tap of course. Did we mention the deconstructed white choc cheesecake? There’s few things in this world quite so marvellous (aside from a certain TBK barista’s moustache, that is).
Still hungry? Check out The Directory for more Restaurants and Cafes in Sydney.
Image credit: Three Williams