Restaurants & Cafes

Left of Field | The Verdict

By Kate Symons - 13 Sep 2016

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You know how, sometimes, you’re really, reeeeeeally tired and need an early night so you watch three episodes of Stranger Things instead? Then, when turning in at 11pm, you give Instagram a quick goodnight glance – be rude not to – and, whoops, all of a sudden you’ve plunged into the depths of the Explore page and midnight is long gone. 

Well, it’s not all bad, because if it wasn’t for Instagram’s Explore algorithm, I might never have been introduced to Left of Field, the new Rhodes café made Insta-famous thanks to ‘those hotcakes’.

Many would know Rhodes as the home of Sydney’s first IKEA, but it is also home to a stack of new apartment complexes and, therefore, a stack of new residents. And residents gotta eat, right? 

That was the assumption of Left of Field co-owner Matt Abi-Arrage, who saw an opportunity to fill a void. The key to the whole concept is a tasty and damn right creative take on daytime food. These guys know that, shock horror, not everyone lives in Surry Hills or Alexandria, and that those who don’t still want some quality grub in their bellies.

Following time well spent at est., Guillaume at Bennelong and Wheelers St James, among others, Ashley Patfield has taken on the Left of Field kitchen. His fine-dining experience is evident in an innovative menu that deserves Sydney-wide attention, not just local interest.

So, first things first. Those hotcakes that whipped me in to a frenzy as I tried to nod off peacefull at 12am. 

The hotcakes (thick and fluffy, drizzled with Earl Grey custard, topped with caramelised banana and scattered with maple popcorn) are, quite frankly, begging to be photographed – and eaten, of course.

Presented with so many tempting options, I ordered the hotcakes out of a sense of obligation as much as anything else. They were the reason for my visit so, I figured, they’d earned it. Forever a fan of bressert, (heard that one before?), I was not disappointed. The Earl Grey custard was the star ingredient and thumbs up to management who have taken heed of feedback, serving extra on the side for ultimate drizzley goodness.

Across the table, my husband offered me judgey eyes as he tucked into a far-healthier breakfast of heirloom tomato, chilli, lime, avocado and goats cheese on toast. I balanced my calorie influx by having a taste (that’s how it works, right?) and was impressed with the burst of summery flavours. At $17, it’s not the cheapest tommy and avo on toast going around, but it might be the biggest. No value-for-money qualms here.

Just days after my first visit, I returned. True story. This time the house made pomegranate and date granola (with a poached pear, honeycomb and labne) was in my sights. Yes, I did read the article about granola being akin to dessert. No, I don’t want to talk about my sugar addiction. 

My breakfast arrived and it was beautiful. I mean, aesthetically, it demanded to be appreciated. I obliged, but not for long; the contrast between juicy pomegranate and earthy dates a highlight of the meal. The granola had a touch of Christmas about it so I’m thinking there was a cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and/or ginger combo going on. 

While my adventures have been breakfast based so far, everything on the menu is available from doors open until 3pm. I’ve waxed lyrical about an all-day breakfast before so double points to Left of Field for applying the reverse as well. 

The menu isn’t the only thing inviting customers to stay all day. The space boasts high ceilings, a stylish mix of light and dark scandi furniture, on-trend white tiles with back grout and plenty of greenery for an instant mood-booster. Oh, and a waterside location. Tick.

The gin and juniper cured ocean trout on grilled rye with a poached egg, fennel salad and yuzu foam, and the fried duck egg with asparagus, garlic, wild mushrooms, pecorino and truffle oil are both on my shortlist for next time. Yet, perhaps my curiosity will lead me to the pig ear fries. This isn’t a euphemism. I speak of the crispy pieces of actual pig ear (sorry vegos) served as a side with the pig-cheek schnitty burger. Holy pork, Batman!

Single Origin are responsible for Left of Field’s beans and thank you to whoever was responsible for my milk – silky, foam-free, no lumps. Thanks also to Joel, whom I assumed owned the place at first, such was his genuine welcome and commitment to our experience. PS: they had no idea who I was or that I would be writing a review.

LoF is licensed from 10am and the beer list includes Sydney’s own Young Henry’s and James Squire.

Get there now before the menu changes for Spring. And get there again after the menu changes for Spring.

Want more cafes to take snaps of? Check out Sydney's best cafes in our Directory! 


Image credit: Claudia Shmueli

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