A freelance writer living and loving in the northern beaches of Sydney...travelling, writing, outdoor activities, gardens, and Pilates are a few of my favourite things. Visit me www.potpourritravels.wordpress.com or www.facebook.com/potpourritravels/
Published May 21st 2017
Hammering home fresh, innovative food in Crows Nest, Sydney
In the heart of Crows Nest on Sydney's north shore, Anvil Café & Grocer have set their sights high. Owners Rani and Paul have created a chic industrial fit-out, providing minimalist indoor seating (the outdoor street seats were half-way through being finished when I visited last week), plus one wall of shelving is stacked with grocery lines of the ingredients you need, should you wish to replicate the dishes at home. This innovative idea, plus their fresh, low-allergy options of eat-in and take-out food was a real stand-out point for me.
I was greeted promptly by smiling staff and one of the owners, Rani, talked me through one of their signature dishes - a chicken, kale, quinoa, currant & spiced-almond salad. It had a delicious light tangy rainbow sorrel sprinkled through it and a pomegranate molasses dressing. I couldn't finish the very generous serving size and thought it very reasonably priced at $12.00.
As I waited for my coffee, I perused the sweets cabinet (doesn't everyone?) The take-away options of bircher-muesli, four different types of salads, Nectar cold-pressed juices, milkshakes, teas from Teacraft, and vegan-friendly dishes all looked healthy and fresh, so I reminded myself to leave room for one of their home-made muffins or chocolate brownie to take home for dessert tonight.
It's not huge, but what is on offer is fresh, imaginative, beautifully presented and generously proportioned. A stand-out point is that all but one of the meals listed - the Chard corn fritters - could be made gluten-free. Breakfast options include Granola or Chia seed pudding with whipped coconut yoghurt, fruit compote, and seasonal fruit $13, Basil pesto scrambled eggs with tomato and bocconcini salad and toast $16, and a Breakfast plate of quinoa sweet potato fritters, wilted greens, beetroot hummus, greens, pickled veg, mixed nuts, seeds, & poached egg $15.
Chef also likes to add a couple of specials such as Peri Peri chicken burger or slow-roasted lamb shoulder. Check it out here. The day I visited I was lucky to sample the freshly cooked green chicken curry on a bed of wild rice, drizzled with kaffir lime-infused oil.
The Coffee My soy latte was perfectly smooth and strong, without being bitter. A quick chat with Pete, my barrister today, explained the history of their 'Sample' coffee blend, which is sourced from specialty coffee importer and roaster, Mecca Coffee in Alexandria. The owner of Mecca, Reuben, is an old hand in the trade and travels overseas several times a year to source micro lots straight from farmers in Kenya and Ethiopia to ensure not only the quality control and level of consistency that he demands from his green beans, but also the importance of the relationship he maintains with his farmers. Pete has done much of his training through Mecca and his passion and knowledge of the whole coffee-making process was inspiring.
The Grocer There's nothing more frustrating than finding a dish that is so tasty that makes you want to make it again at home, then not being able to find the ingredients in your standard supermarkets. And that's where the 'Grocer' side of Anvil Café comes to the fore. The shelves are stacked with fine semolina, buckwheat flour, polenta dust, preserved lemons, pomegranate molasses, orange blossom water, mixed quinoa, black chia seed, and white, red, black and wild rice, just to name a few of their extensive list of groceries. Prices were very comparable with other health food outlets and so handy to know that as I pick up my daily coffee, I can also grab that almond meal or dried mango spears that I need for dinner tonight.
This is the third venture for Rani and Paul, who have been friends and co-workers previously in the corporate world. Their first two ventures into hospitality at Kirribilli and Artarmon have been so successful they couldn't resist replicating it once the right space became available at 54 Alexander Street, Crows Nest. There is plenty of street parking, a bus stop nearby, plus a couple of parking stations within a few minutes walk.
Opening Hours are 7am - 3.30am Monday - Friday, and 7.30am - 3pm on weekends (kitchen closes at 2.30pm). Phone 02-9901 4182.