The Corner McCafe

Review: The Corner McCafe (Camperdown)

I’ve sold my soul to the devil. I’m reviewing an establishment that belongs to McDonald’s. Ok, jokes aside, I’ve been thinking about giving this place a go ever since they opened back when I was doing my undergrad at Sydney Uni but having a very good cafe on campus I never had the choice. Now that I’m back to the neighbourhood (I work at RPAH), I decided it was about time to see what they had to offer. Apologies in advance for the point-and-shoot photos.

This former McCafe morphed into The Corner when Maccas decided to test their ability to engage the hipster market. Kale and quinoa were recent additions in selected cafe menus and chia pots were not available in your local supermarket just yet.

The Corner

The corner has a section of food to grab and go (e.g. wraps, yoghurt, etc.) but you can also order a customised item either to eat in or takeaway. The bowls can be built with a base (brown rice or slaw), a protein (pulled pork, chicken or haloumi) and 2 extras (tortilla chips, pumpkin seeds, croutons, pico de gallo, dry slaw, jalapeños), plus lettuce, cucumber, cheese and a sauce (chipotle mayo, tomato chilli jam, spicy aioli or garlic aioli). All for $10.80. My bowl had slaw, pulled pork, pico de gallo and chipotle aioli. I found the meat to be the star of the show, with good taste and a decent serving. The veggies were a bit old and boring and could not be rescued by the sauce. I did not notice that there were premium extras that could be added to the bowl, e.g. guacamole ($1.50). There’s also the option of doubling up the protein for $3.

Pulled pork bowl

Pulled pork bowl ($10.80)

Other customisable items include pressed wraps, grain salads and classic wraps. There’s also a pulled pork sandwich and a classic bowl with pulled pork, plus toast and toasties (gluten-free available for extra $1).

Coffee is surprisingly expensive, considering there are plenty of better choices around. Small coffees are $3.70, and extras (e.g. soy/almond milk are $0.70).

Almond milk flat white

Small almond milk flat white ($4.40)

The Bottom Line
Coffee: 2.5/5, expensive and not much better than capsule coffee.
Food: 3/5, gluten-free and vegetarian choices available, customisable items.
Service: 3/5, standard “order and pay at the counter” service.

The Corner McCafé
8b Missenden Rd
Camperdown NSW 2050
(02) 9565 5710
Website

The Corner by McCafé Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Review: New breakfast menu at RealFood Connection (Camperdown)

RealFood Connection has just launched a new breakfast menu. This is one of my favourite cafes in Sydney because everything is gluten-free and many items are also dairy-free. In addition, because they also offer a meal delivery service, there are always delicious and healthy takeaway meals you can grab if you don’t feel like cooking.

I was a bit sad to see that the chunky bacon and sweet potato hash had left the menu but excited to try a couple of the new items. But first, coffee.

Long black

Long black ($3)

The breakfast platter was our favourite, just because we like a lot of variety on our plates. As we say in our country, “en la variedad está el gusto”. This is a meal for big appetites and comes with two free range eggs (poached, scrambled or fried), bacon, haloumi, avocado, roasted pumpkin, leafy greens and two slices of toast. The buckwheat toast is the new default, replacing the paleo toast which is still available for extra $2. I loved how the flavours complemented each other, especially the sweet caramelised pumpkin and the salty haloumi.

Breakfast platter

Breakfast platter ($18)

Even though I’ve had the paleo pumpkin and chia seed toast, which is made on premises, I ordered a slice to compare it to the buckwheat toast side by side. The buckwheat one is sturdier and blander, the paleo one is bigger and has more flavour. Choose according to your priorities.

Buckwheat toast, paleo toast

Buckwheat toast, paleo toast

We also tried the beef brisket and sweet potato hash, a generous serve of grass-fed pulled beef brisket sautéed with sweet potato and greens, and served with two free range poached eggs. It’s a hearty breakfast full of flavour, perfect for winter. I have to admit I liked the chunky bacon hash a bit better (because bacon), but I can see myself ordering the brisket again in the near future.

Beef brisket and sweet potato hash

Beef brisket and sweet potato hash ($15)

RealFood Connection
2 Sterling Circuit
Camperdown NSW 2050
(02) 9516 0267
Website
On Facebook

Real Food Connection Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Review: Deus Cafe (Camperdown)

As much as I dislike going to cafes that don’t have an online menu available (theirs is in coming soon status), I had read many good things about this bike shop cafe, and it was handy for both my sister and I to catch up.

Deus Cafe

So yes, there are bikes around and most of the tables are communal, but the place has it charm.

Deus Cafe

I normally find Italian coffee too bitter for my taste but I liked their brew.

Long black

Long black ($3.50)

They have gluten-free bread and, in general, staff members know how certain dishes can be tweaked to be made sans gluten. In the case of the dill cured Tasmanian salmon served with creamy scrambled egg + brioche, it was a simple bread swap. Both the salmon and eggs were delicious, BTW.

Dill cured Tasmanian salmon, creamy scrambled egg + GF toast

Dill cured Tasmanian salmon, creamy scrambled egg + brioche ($17 + $1.50 for GF bread)

The Deus breakfast burger, fried egg, slow cooked pork + romesco was a bit trickier. I was told the sauce contained gluten (it is traditionally made with bread) and even though I ordered it gluten-free, it came with sauce. Not a big deal as it was just a matter of scraping it out. Great breakfast sandwich.

Deus breakfast burger

Deus breakfast burger

Deus breakfast burger, fried egg, slow cooked pork + romesco ($10 + $1.50 for GF bread)

They have a few gluten-free baked goodies, too. Quite sweet but good for sharing.

Deus Cafe
98/102-104 Parramatta Rd
Camperdown NSW 2050
(02) 9519 3669
www.deuscafe.com.au
On Facebook

Deus Cafe on Urbanspoon

Review: Bion Societé (Camperdown)

A couple of weeks ago my sister and I met for breakfast at Bion Societé. I must say I thought the place looked a bit more ordinary than the photos I’d seen online. Management change, perhaps?

Bion Societé

Bion Societé

As usual, we started off with long blacks, which were thankfully served in larger than usual cups. Good coffee.

Long blacks

Long blacks ($3.50)

We shared the Tasmanian smoked salmon Benedict (soft poached eggs on brioche -we got gluten-free toast instead-, smoked salmon, cherry tomato, asparagus, sauce vierge, salmon roe-missing, green herb oil, baby herbs & hollandaise) and the BION Cafe breakfast (2 poached eggs served with caramelised tomato, mushrooms, pork sausage, bacon, wilted spinach & sourdough – we got gluten-free toast instead).

Tasmanian smoked salmon Benedict

Tasmanian smoked salmon Benedict ($18)

See that piece of buttery substance in the photo below? Not butter. Either margarine or one of those spreadable water-filled concoctions.

BION Cafe breakfast

BION Cafe breakfast ($20)

Unfortunately the food was average, which is a pity considering the place is nice, and service and coffee are not bad either.

Bion Societé
12/14 Layton Street
Camperdown NSW 2050
(02) 9557 5931
www.bionsociete.com.au

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Review: Store Espresso (Camperdown)

After a brief hiatus due to final exams (yay, I just finished my second undergraduate degree!), here’s my report from the last breakfast catch-up with my sister. Once again I managed to take this place for granted for the 2.5 years that I lived 1-2 minutes from there and only got to visit it now that I live 15 minutes further away. Yes, we’re talking walking distance. What a drama, I know.

Until recently I was under the impression that Store Espresso was more about the coffee and less about the food. Fortunately our visit proved me wrong.

Store Espresso

Upon a closer inspection of the menu a few items did catch my eye. We ordered the Italian scrambled eggs with crispy pancetta, diced tomato, parsley & provolone (served without sourdough), which was more an omelette than scrambled eggs. Other than that, it was amazing! One of the best tasting breakfasts I’ve had lately. If cheese didn’t make me stuffy I would eat this every day.

Italian scrambled eggs

Italian scrambled eggs ($14)

The other dish was also good but less spectacular. It was field mushroom layered with sautéed spinach, roast tomato and pesto served with poached egg (again, no sourdough), that we ordered with an extra poached egg to make sharing easier. Nice flavour, especially the slightly sweet chunky pesto.

Field mushroom

Field mushroom ($14.50 + $2 for extra poached egg)

And yes, coffee was good. So was the water with lemon slices offered at the table. Yes, “the” table: they do the communal table thing, so be prepared if you are socially impaired (like me).

Long black

Store Espresso
17 Fowler Street
Camperdown NSW 2050
(02) 9517 4157
www.storeespresso.com.au

Store Espresso on Urbanspoon

Review: Taste Baguette (Charles Perkins Centre, Sydney uni)

Also known in uni as “the overpriced cafe”, Taste Baguette has not only one but two shops at Sydney Uni. The newest is located in the Charles Perkins Centre and attracts not only students and uni staff but also staff from the nearby RPA.

One of the main reasons I like this place is because they serve Campos coffee. I often grab a takeway long black before my midday lectures. This time I got to enjoy one in a proper cup for 50 cents extra.

Long black

Long black ($3.90)

Obviously, this place is all about the baguettes but fortunately they have found a way of making more profit catering for customers can’t/won’t eat bread. For 2 extra bucks you can have your meal served as a salad. Throw in an extra buck if you want it served at the table on a real plate.

Alvaro and I shared the lemongrass beef salad with iceberg lettuce, pickled carrot and radish, cucumber, coriander and spring onions and the slow cooked pork terrine salad with pickled carrot and radish, cucumber, spring onions, coriander, and sriracha mayo.

Lemongrass beef salad

Lemongrass beef salad ($11.40 + $1 eat in + $2 as salad)

I liked the beef better than the pork but none was a revelation. I guess it is all about the baguettes.

Vietnamese pork salad

Vietnamese pork ($7.50 + $1 eat in + $2 as salad)

… and we were still hungry. For busy patrons, the cafe has a section of takeaway salads and hot food. They are not cheap if you compare to other takeaway options on campus, but generally healthier. We grabbed a large container of crispy-skin salmon, asparagus, and roasted pumpkin that wasn’t bad at all.

Takeaway salads

Takeaway salads (large $12.50, small $9.50)

Takeaway hot food

Takeaway hot food (large $15.90, small $12.90)

Taste Baguette
Charles Perkins Centre
John Hopkins Drive
Camperdown NSW 2050
(02) 9518 8038
tastebaguette.com

Taste Baguette on Urbanspoon

Review: Gather on the Green (Camperdown)

In the 2.5 years that I lived in Camperdown I went to the park for a run or walked through it to go to uni hundreds of times. Not once I stopped at Gather On The Green. Fortunately my sister works nearby so it became an obvious spot to have breakfast with her.

The cafe is far away from the buzz of Newtown but in a premium location just opposite the park. In fact, you can sit at the public park picnic tables and get served there if the weather is good.

Gather on the Green

It was starting to get cold in Sydney so we sat inside.

Gather on the Green

Gather on the Green

I started my morning with a – you guessed it – long black. Very nice coffee; I was tempted to have a second cup but my adrenals said no. Gladys had lemongrass & ginger tea, served in a retro cup.

Gather on the Green: Long black, lemongrass & ginger tea

Long black ($3.50), lemongrass & ginger tea ($4)

After asking a few questions about gluten-free bread and ingredients we ordered two of the meals from the “substantial” section in the menu. I think between our accent, questions and requests we managed to confuse our waiter, who served us the wrong meal twice, but promptly corrected the mistakes. Service otherwise was super attentive and genuinely warm.

We started with the poached eggs with gourmet sausage, spinach & tamarind chutney. While the eggs were a tad overcooked, the sausage was tasty and went very well with the slightly spicy chutney.

Gather on the Green: Poached eggs, gourmet sausage & spicy chutney

Poached eggs with gourmet sausage, spinach & tamarind chutney ($15)

The other dish we shared was Gather’s famous scrambled eggs with parmesan, served with bacon. This one’s a no-brainer. Parmesan and bacon must be two of the most effective flavour enhancers out there. 2X umami. Good dish and generous serving. I didn’t try the toast but like it when it comes smothered in butter.

Gather on the Green: Gather's scrambled eggs with Parmesan and bacon

Gather’s famous scrambled eggs with parmesan, served with bacon ($15)

Gather on the Green
15 Fowler Lane
Camperdown NSW 2050
(02) 9557 4106
On Facebook

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Special dinner at RealFood Connection (Camperdown)

I’ve been a customer of RealFood Connection for a while. I’ve had breakfast at the cafe. I’ve bought meals from them online (both picked up and delivered). But I hadn’t experienced it as a fine dining real food restaurant yet.

Nadine organised a four-course dinner for the paleo meetup group and kindly invited me to come along (thanks, Nadine!). It was great to catch up with her and Ali, and to meet other like-minded people. Best of all, it’s always great to sit back and enjoy a great meal without worrying about the ingredients.

The first course was roasted bone marrow on top of a mixed leaf salad. What a perfect way to start a nourishing meal in a chilly night.

RealFood Connection: Roasted bone marrow

Roasted bone marrow

The next course arrived beautifully presented in closed jars containing small cubes of smoked salmon belly layered with oyster cream and a micro herb salad, and served with crispy paleo bread. Best of all, it was even better than what it looked.

RealFood Connection: Smoked salmon belly with oyster cream, micro herb salad and crispy Paleo bread

Smoked salmon belly with oyster cream, micro herb salad and crispy Paleo bread

The main course was a delicious seafood stew with coconut milk. All seafood (calamari, mussels, scallops, prawns) were cooked to perfection and the broth was super flavourful.

RealFood Connection: Seafood stew

Seafood stew

I must admit at this stage I was quite full (a sign that we were being fed very nutrient-dense food!) but who can say “no” to dessert when it’s 100% paleo and looks like a piece of art? The deconstructed coconut, lemongrass & lime brûlée was served with a mandarin segment, grilled pineapple, julienned ginger and a coconut sugar tuile. Dinner so far had been outstanding but the sweet course was IMO the best.

RealFood Connection: Deconstructed coconut, lemongrass & lime brûlée

Deconstructed coconut, lemongrass & lime brûlée

So there you go, RealFood Connection not only provides convenient real-food nutrient-dense ready meals, awesome paleo breakfasts and great coffee, but also does fine dining. If you haven’t been there yet, what are you waiting for?

Real Food Connection
2 Sterling Circuit
Camperdown NSW 2050
(02) 9516 0267
www.realfoodconnection.com.au
On Facebook

Realfood Connection on Urbanspoon

Review: Salisbury Spice (Camperdown)

There’s a shop on Salisbury Road that has been occupied by two different coffee shops and is now a Thai restaurant. I walk past it on my way to uni and have seen it deserted at times and busy (but not extremely) at times. On top of that, mixed Google reviews didn’t give a clear indication of how good (or bad) was the place. I had to find out.

So I (gently) dragged Alvaro for dinner one day that he was craving burgers. Not fair, I know. But he said a curry would be an okay second option. He chose the mussaman beef curry, the classic of classics. The dish description in the menu had a typo, which sometimes is a good indication that international food is somewhat authentic: “Southern Thai rich coconut curry seasoned with tamarind & plum [sic] sugar”. The serving was huge, and very saucy. But it had a good amount of meat, too. There were a few not-so-tender chunks but some of them were spoon-tender. Alvaro had his share with rice, I just had it soup-style. It was very sweet as per usual, but had a pleasant flavour.

Mussaman beef curry ($16.90)

I chose the promising “award-winning” crispy pork in heaven sauce with stir-fried vegetables, bamboo, basil, green bean and long chilli. The pork was better than the one at Atom Thai, the dish as a whole had a nice flavour but its name was definitely an exaggeration.

Crispy pork in heaven sauce ($16.90)

It wasn’t a cheap meal considering other Thai options in the area, but it was quite filling.

Salisbury Spice
1/176-180 Salisbury Rd
Camperdown NSW 2050
(02) 9516 0708
www.salisburyspicethairestaurant.com.au

Salisbury Spice on Urbanspoon

Better coffee

I drink my coffee black most of the time, but once in a while I have it for breakfast with some coconut milk, double cream or salted butter in it. This way it doesn’t upset my stomach as milk would, and the fat gives me extra energy, fills me up for several hours and helps me stay in fat burning mode.

Then I heard about the Bulletproof® Coffee, essentially a long black blended with MCT (medium-chain triglyceride) oil and grass-fed butter. This is the most famous invention of Dave Asprey, the biohacking guru behind The Bulletproof Executive. This coffee will keep you full and supercharged for hours. You can learn more here. If you decide to go ahead and make it at home you can buy the supplies here.

If you decide you want to try it first you can do so at Thr1ve or Paleo Cafe. The Thr1ve version is called mountain coffee because they don’t use the actual copyrighted coffee beans, but the idea is the same. It’s frothy, has a great taste and keeps you alert and satisfied.

Mountain coffee

Mountain coffee from Thr1ve ($4.90)

Thr1ve’s signature coffees also include the island coffee, with coconut cream and cinnamon, and the iceman coffee, a post-workout iced coffee made with MCT oil and vanilla whey protein isolate. Both great in flavour and very filling.

Island coffee

Island coffee from Thr1ve ($4.90)

Iceman coffee

Iceman coffee from Thr1ve ($5.90)

If you don’t want to drink your coffee black and don’t like the idea of having (too much) fat in it, there’s hope. Both Paleo Cafe and RealFood Connection offer lactose-free, coconut and almond milks. Sadhana Kitchen offers coconut and almond milk, too (no cow’s milk ’cause they’re vegan). I’m sure other vegan cafes/coffee carts offer the same alternatives, so keep your eyes peeled.

Almond milk latte

Almond milk latte from Paleo Cafe ($)

As much as I enjoy coffee and these amazing variations I’ve scaled down my consumption. Now that I’m gluten-free, reflux is no longer an issue but I find drinking coffee too frequently drains my energy away. That’s why Jason Seib and others recommend having coffee only when your health, stress and rest are in check. I totally agree.

Thr1ve
Shop 28, MLC Centre
19-29 Martin Place
Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9221 3885
www.thr1ve.me
On Facebook

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Paleo Cafe
Shop 5, 310-330 Oxford St
Bondi Junction NSW 2022
www.paleo-cafe.com.au
On Facebook

Paleo Cafe on Urbanspoon

Real Food Connection
2 Sterling Circuit
Camperdown NSW 2050
(02) 9516 0267
www.realfoodconnection.com.au
On Facebook

Realfood Connection on Urbanspoon

Sadhana Kitchen
147 Enmore Rd
Enmore NSW 2042
(02) 9516 1334
www.sadhanakitchen.com
On Facebook

Sadhana Kitchen on Urbanspoon