You don't really notice the gnome flipping the bird at you in the corner, but even when you do, it's hard not to laugh. It's an irreverent cheekiness that sums up this tiny cafe, perched on the corner of Crown and Davies Street in coffee-loving Surry Hills.
Bloody Mary $11
Sure it's barely midday but it's easy to justify a cocktail when we're talking about a Bloody Mary. Gnome boasts an impressive selection of wines given its size (six whites, three reds and one sticky available by the glass), as well as three beers and the Napoleon and Co pear cider ($8).
The Bloody Mary is their signature drink, however, and with good reason. It's spicy, sweet and salty, accented with a sprinkling of black pepper and the tang of a freshly squeezed lime. It's ridiculously good.
Ocean trout, mascarpone and watercress sandwich $10
Despite the tiny kitchen, the menu covers a broad range of offerings. The breakfast board (ricotta, boiled egg, avocado, fresh tomato and toast for $10.50) is always popular, as are the lunch boards ($20) that include a mix of cold meats, smoked trout and/or cheeses served with a baguette and crostini.
We stick with sandwiches and salads today, perching on the narrow banquette that lines one wall of the cafe. The ocean trout sandwich arrives on thick slices of soy linseed bread, slathered with dill-speckled mascarpone and piled generously with buttery slices of ocean trout, capers and crisp leaves of watercress and radicchio.
Poached chicken salad $12
The poached chicken salad is a blackboard special, a wide but shallow bowl heaped with succulent slices of chicken, boiled egg quarters, rocket leaves, radicchio and sprinkled with crunchy pistachio nuts.
The super grilled cheese sandwich $12
As for me, the super grilled cheese sandwich has my name all over it. The soy linseed bread, grilled to a crunch, holds a warm and stretchy goo of cheddar, gruyere and buffalo mozzarella cheeses. Hidden within the oozing goodness are paper-thin slices of prosciutto. Hello happy place!
The richness of the sandwich is countered by a side salad of rocket and radicchio leaves. It's enough to make you feel virtuous again, and ready to tackle dessert.
White chocolate pannacotta with mixed berries and vanilla bean ice cream $10
We skip the counter cakes and choose the white chocolate pannacotta. It's the only disappointment of the day, the pannacotta overset with too much gelatin to a rubbery firmness. The coffee, thankfully, is reliably good, made using their custom-roasted house blend Casablanca.
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Gnome Espresso and Wine Bar
536 Crown Street, Surry Hills, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9332 3191
Mon 7am-5pm, Tues to Fri 7am-9.30pm,
Sat 8am-9.30pm, Sun 8am-5pm
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1/13/2012 02:28:00 am