I was meeting Luca for Lunch the other day when a man in a ute (with antique mismatched chairs in the back... hipster or homeless? No rockabilly I think) asked me if I could roll forward so he could double park behind me, I offered to go back so he could park legally... Long story short he offered me a coffee (#doublemac) the coffee was so beautiful I was compelled to leave my car and introduce myself, compliment the barista and find out more. Ute man turned out to be one of the Little Marionette guys and as soon as I heard this the last piece of the (why haven't I been here before) puzzle slipped into place.
Little Marionette Logo
The guys from Little Marionette Coffee are self proclaimed "coffee nerds" and are best known for the Cafe's in Annandale and Balmain. Both making use of a tiny space to deliver a killer cup of coffee. There is an abundance of new cafes in Sydney but very few of them have the same pedigree as Corduroy Cafe.
External facade with the very cool planter boxes (pipes)
Foster Street in Surry Hills has recently bloomed with great little eateries (Short grain and Long grain), a new bar (Tio's), the iconic Hollywood Hotel and now the latest edition to this 10 metre strip (which can keep you covered from early morning until late night) is the very nice (and so cheap) Corduroy Cafe.
In keeping with the Little Marionette tradition, coffee comes first here. Using the Marionette house blend the very friendly barista (Wes or Wesley to his mother) pumps out coffee at a rate and quality that would keep even Campos happy (36 perfect coffees in 16 minutes). If I were to hazard a guess at the house blend it has the body and sweetness of an ethiopian with the chocolate in cheek of an Indian Malabar, impossible to tell with secret house blends nowadays. But it was excellent that is for sure.
Many people get a double macchiato (meaning marked or stained in italian) wrong by maying it into a 3/4 piccolo latte. It should just be two shots of coffee with a dash of foam poured and then a touch spooned on the top. This foam is "stained" by the coffee. Fortunately (and not surprisingly) for me, Wes succeeds in making a near perfect coffee. I have one, then another and then finally another (bringing it in total to 4 if you include the freebee in the car... #buzzing).
The interior of the cafe is set up to optimise space and aesthetics, it couldn't be more than 20sqm yet somehow they have managed to compact their kitchen, display cabinet, coffee machine and till into 4sqm leaving the rear of the cafe to seat around 15.
When Luca emerged from work we decided to simply go back to Corduroy and try their food. Luca has the smashed eggs, which was simply soft boiled eggs broken up on sourdough with chimmichurri, a fragrant mix of roughly chopped herbs, oil and garlic. I went for the sandwich of the day which was pulled pork with chilli and chimmichurri. Simply delicious. The pork was soft and tender and the chimmichurri sent my tastebuds whirring. The food was very quick, taking about 5 minutes, which is no small feat in the middle of lunch service. Four coffees and 2 lunches cost $29 all together. You'd be hard pressed to find something of such high quality for so cheap anywhere in the area.
It seems the Little Marionette formula of getting a tiny space, using it efficiently, having a small but delectable menu and awesome coffee has proven itself again to be a winner. It's amazing how a surprise encounter can reveal a hidden gem.