4 hidden cafes of Sydney’s Inner West

I’ve spent a whole lot of time inInner West cafes. They are the heartbeat of our precinct, the glue that unites us, the sauce that makes the meat so tasty…. and so on.

But not all the cafes are obvious, popular or, (heaven-forbid) trendy.

So here’s a few lesser known establishments. They are each humble and efficient, and the coffee is good throughout, so I have tried to rate them on that other essential of a good cafe experience, the atmosphere.

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Petersham

I’ve spent most of my time living between Petersham and Croydon so this short review is a tribute to my most regular haunts.

If you’re heading through Petersham (it’s not like there’ any reason to stop there), I’d have previously picked the Big Brekky. It was a no-brainer… for years.  But actually, the Big Brekky faces a new contender.

Little Creatures is opposite and down the road 100m from our old Petersham favourite.

Big Brekky vs Little Creatures

1/316-320 Stanmore Road, Petersham

and

276 Stanmore Road, Sydney, New South Wales

Big Brekky still has the best eggs on toast this side of Newtown, but for atmosphere, comfy chairs and opening hours, Little Creatures, with its walls of windows and kid-friendly position on the corner of a beautiful park, has overtaken the stalwart.

Big Brekky is the Town Hall of Quirksville. It’s affordable but you haver to play by the rules. If the staff were angry it would be the Soup Nazi. Think of it as an exclusive cafe that somehow feels family-run…. only the family is made up of cool hipsters who do amazing coffee. Getting the picture? BB’s hours are ridiculous. We’ve turned up multiple times to find them shut. If they don’t feel like it, they won’t open. I swear, it was once shut at 10am on a Saturday morning.

They have an outdoor area but it’s often overgrown and it’s partly a car-park.

They have kids toys (great!) but they really need a wash so your kids might be better to bring their own.

The menu is sensational. Try the homemade baked beans.

Little Creatures is half book store, half cafe, half restaurant. (It’s not very clear if the books are for browsing or for sale. If someone knows, do tell.)

The owner bought the shop five months ago and has done a very cosy fit-out. cots of nooks and odd chairs, rugs and old bookcases.

The food is just as enjoyable thanks to the chef’s Chilean wife. The Empanadas are worth the visit

And at $4 a pop you can do dinner for $8!

With a window onto Old Canterbury Road that is crowded with figurines, this joint is very child friendly but designed well enough that any kiddy noise doesn’t dominate the entire space.

The coffee is… improving.

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Homebush

What? Homebush? ISn’t that where they had the Olympics and … well isn’t that all? Pretty much, yes. BUt the millions that poured into the precinct produced a few stadia and one stunning cafe that you may not know of. It is also one of the few in the inner west boasting water views.

 

 

Armoury Cafe

Blaxland Riverside Park, Jamieson Street, Newington NSW

You’re unlikely to even realise that behind Silverwater Jail there is all kinds of fun to be had. The SHFA is responsible for this angular and inspired design for a cafe/restaurant on the edge of the Parramatta River. For years this stretch had been inaccessible excerpt to Army personnel. Thankfully, some bright spark thought of starting a business that not only took advantage of the serene vista but also the history and authenticity of the surrounds. It’s a post-industrial dreamland for someone like me who loves a good respectful restoration with exposed beams and rusty bolts alongside a $10,000 coffee machine and perfectly folded serviettes.

Plus, the kids can play on grassy bunkers that were used as ammunitions dumps just a few years ago!

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Marrickville

One cafe in Marrickville is bringing the change that Obama promised us all those years ago. It’s the suburb’s least subtle attempt at saying”Look! We are the new Surry Hills!”. Until now, the best evidence of that was Marrickville’s growing number of brothels and boarding houses. (That’s a bit harsh. But only a bit.)

 

 

 

 

 

Bourke Street Bakery, Marrickville

2 Mitchell Street Marrickville

You’ll never find this artisan bakery/cafe unless you are looking for it, or, like me, you enjoy driving around industrial estates taking photos of the ugliest buildings you can find.

There are delicious sourdoughs, pastries and tarts. No mud cake or glossy ‘Danish pastries’ here. Everything is worth trying. Especially one thing I make special trips for.

Try the Ginger Brûlée. It is worth double the $4.50 they charge for one.

Plus, if you turn up in the last thirty minutes before closing, you will often be overloaded with bread rolls and sourdoughs they haven’t sold. There’s no better loyalty scheme than giving away free bread.

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Summer Hill

Decolata

134 Smith Street, Summer Hill

Summer Hill must have the highest ratio of cafes per head of population. But if you ask me, they could really do with some refreshment. The cafes, not the people.

Here’s one sentence on each.

MUSE – Once awesome and varied, now feels tired and needs resuscitating.

ALIMENTO DELI – Several kinds of expensive wonderful.

ENVY – If you envy crowded Saturdays and seating.

DECOLATA – Petit, Italianate and tasty.

BEAN TAMPERED – Strangely unfinished yet friendly and aromatic.

TRAIN ONE – Cheesy interior but a winning location.

PLUNGE – Best all-rounder replete with vintage couch, courtyard and heavenly French Toast.

I like Decolata for it gives you at least the feeling that you are onto something exclusive when every cafe here is usually overcrowded and tending toward impersonal. No customer feels important when there are ten people ahead of you in a queue and the guy in the front just ordered 6 coffees. Decolata’s design is thoughtful, the owner is a great guy (who’ll let you in at night with his friends  to watch Soccer games if you ask nicely) and the courtyard is plain but sunny.

All Summer Hill cafes have good coffee. And prices are all similar. However, I think Decolata is the most consistent for strength and character.

So, for a snob like me, it comes down to atmosphere. It’s just the vibe.

I am happy to have any of these suggestions contested. So please, be honest and, more importantly, funny.

Best of “Twitter Vs Facebook” (as posted on Twitter)

RT @DamnItsTrue: Facebook makes me hate people close to me. Twitter makes me love people I never knew.

RT @chiloBella: People use FaceBook to impress, PeopLe use Twitter to express

RT @Kid_Smoot: Facebook is where you lie to people you know. Twitter is where you’re honest to strangers.

RT @TheeeSickestKid: Twitter is full of cool people you’ve never met. Facebook is full of lame people you wish you could forget.

RT @InsaneTweets_: Twitter – fake profile pictures. Facebook- Fake friends.

RT @ashomillo: Twitter is where people talk. Facebook is where people stalk.

To see more, go to #TwitterVsFB

Best and Worst of John Farnham’s Hair

The first ever concert I went to was to see John Farnham at the Sydney Entertainment Centre. I was twelve. It was the Age of Reason Tour and what I learned most from that night was that the more you call your audience "mongrels" the more they love you.

Plus, I learned that my dad was my hero. Sitting through Touch of Paradise, Two Strong Hearts and all those other great songs Johnny didn’t write was the most sacrificial thing my father ever did for me and as my music tastes changed over time I have come to admire his sacrifice more and more.

As Johnny Farnham gears up for yet another tour – this one features a performance of the entire Whispering Jack album – I find myself contemplating my teenage love of Farnsey once again…

Now, if I’m not mistaken, no other part of John Farnham’s appearance has always captured his enthusiasm, his stage persona, and made him so darn likeable, than his hair.

But, as these pictures show, his hair hasn’t always been Playing To Win, if you know what I mean.

The Denis Walter look. So young, Such Agro eyebrows.(1968)

1974 brought Johnny a new optimism, a new tailored look, and the head of a neatly brushed badger.

Farnsey at his best – windswept and wearing what appears to be lippy. Does anyone actually know why Jack was whispering? (1986)

Flamboyant Rock God! He looked as if could have been in Def Leppard, when actually he was singing about flamingoes. (1988)

Ha! What a felon! This hair is akin to a tufty guinea pig – given a quick perm. Ace! (1990)

This is Johnny in Jesus Christ Superstar (1992) I hope he’s playing Jesus because if not, his hair looks stolen from Goldie Hawn.

Business on top, poodle at the sides and who knows what’s happening at the back. (1995)

What’s this? Why sport the hair of an author? Especially an unpublished one. (1998)

In 2003, he reached his follicular peak. THE ASLAN.

Heinous! It’s an albino Gary Who hairstyle in a jacket that looks more like Tinman from Wizard of Oz than the Age of Grease’n (2005).

Let’s be honest. This is the hair of an old bloke on the pokies at your local RSL. (2009)

2011 – Uhoh, Dye job. It’s Barry Gibb meets Donald Trump. Let’s hope the new tour doesn’t sacrifice any more of his self esteem than this photo must have.

John Farnham

So, to see the hair up close.. who’s coming with me and my dad to the next concert!!??

Related links
Tour info – JohnFarnham.com.au | Official website
John Farnham is 62 and not out | Herald Sun
Farnsey Is Back… For The Last Time! | Defamer Australia

Oprah’s finale suggest she’s bigger than Jesus

Pictures from Oprah’s Transfiguration – well, it sure looks like she’s bidding farewell to our dear planet.

Seriously, let’s remember. This is simply the final week of a TV show.

Yes, Oprah is a juggernaut of hype and elongated syllables but on a basic level, she is just a successful talk-show host.

I can’t help but compare her to Jesus. Well, at least evangelist Billy Graham – a man who attracted stadium size audiences in Australia fifty years ago.

I could run with that analogy further but isn’t it more enjoyable to poke fun and hold a pop-quiz with twitpics I found??

Just tell me this doesn’t look like HillSong but with more celebrities…

300668931.jpg?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAJF3XCCKACR3QDMOA&Expires=1305689761&Signature=EOFUoMvGpi9sbh3RXni7IbzOxno%3D
This is
a) The line up outside the Chicago Stadium
b) An unemployment queue
c) All of the above

scaled.php?tn=0&server=610&filename=p28je.jpg&xsize=640&ysize=640
This is
a) product placement
b) because your love for Oprah will make you cry she is having a career change
c) Hugh Jackman’s seat

scaled.php?tn=0&server=620&filename=mdsft.jpg&xsize=640&ysize=640
This is
a) a superstar embracing an icon
b) the biggest surprise of the night
c) the scariest open-mouth kiss ever

300806701.jpg?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAJF3XCCKACR3QDMOA&Expires=1305689647&Signature=NaBIjnjXIQUoLxcwn8gFhyCaPmY%3D
This is
a) Oprah hugging Jerry Seinfeld!
b) Oprah thinking she’s hugging Nick Cage
c) Jerry eyeing the exits

300706580.jpg?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAJF3XCCKACR3QDMOA&Expires=1305689664&Signature=VC2HXQWR35LDISgjcJBQ0SDlUB0%3D

This is
a) An evangelistic event
b) A rock concert
c) A lot of people hoping to get something expensive for free.

‘Nicole Santos’ virus destroys Facebook and news media missed it

What is going on?
I have just switched on after a night of poor baking experiences and a virus going by the name of Nicole Santos is ‘spreading like wildfire‘ across Facebook yet no major news organisations have noticed a thing.

SMH – nothing
news.com.au – nothing
dailytelegraph.com.au – nothing

Facebook itself has nothing to say…
http://www.facebook.com/press.php
http://www.twitter.com/facebook

Hell, even Mashable.com has no sign of it.

So what are we to make of a clever scam that purports to be a ‘Verify Your Account’ link but then spreads gunk on all your friends’ walls.

Looks to me like the second bad news story on Facebook security in two days.

The first was uncovered by Symantec – which always has me suspicious, who else stands ot gain from such revelations except a virus solutions company? – But this attacks seems worse for three reasons;

1) It’s out in the open – today’s story was largely undiscovered.
2) It’s spread through the actions of unwitting users, not due to Facebook’s low restrictions on developers
3) It’s simply spam which reduces the value and integrity of Facebook as a service, not just of it’s privacy policy

But still, where are all the newsmedia covering what looks like the biggest virus to spread across the word’s largest social network?

These companies gladly publish banal stories about every Facebook tweak and celebrity post or record-breaking nonsense group (e.g. Fans of Pippa Middleton’s arse).

At this time, the US is just waking up and Australia is going to sleep. Yet judging by my twitter feed, a whole lot of people are still awake.

There’s a growing gulf here that only Twitter seems able to address. God love it.

The Chaser PR team is still chasing their royal glory

If your program gets pulled off air by the Queen of England, it’s a good chance for more comedic revelry – the kind HRH was probably trying to halt.

But isn’t all this getting a little out of control?

ABC director of television Kim Dalton talks to @smh_news about the @Clarencehouse #royalwedding Chaser ban. Audio: http://bit.ly/hzvOO4
http://twitter.com/michaelidato/statuses/63237114652921856

@abcmarkscott: Julian Morrow explains how The Chaser wedding coverage came not to be. http://bit.ly/gew50W
http://twitter.com/abcmarkscott/statuses/63180844474441729

@abcqanda: Chaser @craigreucassel will join the panel for #qanda #royalwedding special – doco & debate Thu 8.30-10.30pm ABC1
http://twitter.com/abcqanda/statuses/63154025373249537

Oh please make it stop…

Chaser #royalwedding ban latest: @clarencehouse talks to @smh_news, BBC responds, ABC "disapppointed". http://bit.ly/hdSVC7
http://twitter.com/michaelidato/statuses/63248933329190912

Michael Tunn (remember him!) spells out how a nothing story is going nowhere…

Chaser story getting no international traction.
http://twitter.com/RealMichaelTunn/statuses/63244613351251968

Oh wait, the ABC’s serious news programme Lateline is now interviewing Chas. The hashtag below says it all..

#lateline has @ChasLicc on… #endoftimes
http://twitter.com/iBleeter/statuses/63223594519498752

The Keli Lane twist

Does anyone know what is going on with this? She doesn’t appear to be a manipulating killer capable of pure evil. Yet she makes it through an entire court case and heads off to jail for the good part of her middle age without ever giving a plausible explanation of her missing baby’s whereabouts… kelilane_header.jpg Then, today, just two days after the verdict is delivered, a taxi driver appears – as if out of nowhere – and has a plausible story of how he witnessed Keli dumping her baby in bushland. (Read the taxi driver’s story) The still-shocking event happened during a taxi ride from the hospital and the story ends with the baby be taken away by a mystery woman!!?? Not out of morbid curiosity but …. oh actually it it probably is. Here are my immediate questions… Where was the taxi driver during the months of cross-examination and blanket media coverage? Where was the taxi driver last week when Channel 7 offered half a million dollars for this kind of info Who is this lady who picked up the baby? Was it arranged drop-off point? Why leave a newborn baby with a bottle unless you expect it to be picked up and the bottle is for the new caretaker? wanted300.jpg

What do you think? I want to hear some theories…

I also want to know the baby is still alive.

UPDATE: The twist also has a twist. The taxi driver making the claims has been identified as having suffered mental illness and had their licence cancelled at the time of baby Tegan’s birth. Keli has denied she dumped the baby in bushland.

Strange UK shop names

I have noticed a few surprising name choices among UK retailers…

There was more than this but I couldn’t always snap a pic quick enough as we ran to or from the Tube…

Unsure what kind of t-shirt slogans I may be wearing if I bought from here. Let’s put it down to Engrish.

This is a chain not unlike Just Jeans, which, on second thought, is not a very accurate name either.

Why not just name the shop ‘Poor choice’.

me tweeting

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