Furniture and salads? The incongruous pairing makes perfect sense when you arrive at Kitchen by Mike, hosted within the Koskela design showroom in Rosebery.
A casual passerby on the street would be unlikely to know this huge slate grey warehouse holds such vibrancy and colour inside. High ceilings, skylights and windows let in plenty of warm natural light. The showroom is spacious, showcasing a range of Koskela and partner products, all of them Australian-made.
There's much to like here, from the outback-inspired four-poster bed to the cuddly koalas chewing gum leaves at the kids table.
All Australian-made products and furnishings in the Koskela showroom
Kitchen by Mike feels like a natural complement to the Australian-made theme, with an underlying focus on local seasonal produce. Headed by Michael McEnearney, a former head chef at Rockpool, the menu at this canteen-style cafe changes daily depending on what he finds that morning at the markets.
Kitchen by Mike
It's a casual style set-up here, with an assortment of wooden tables that encourage communal dining. Large tomato tins are repurposed as cutlery containers, resting on neat stacks of recycled paper serviettes and jars containing sugar cubes.
Woodfire stove and Koskela enamel tabelware at Kitchen by Mike
Outdoor dining area
There's an outdoor dining area - a little exposed on a hot day like today - but around the corner are stools are tables on the covered balcony.
Fresh produce for sale
Kitchen by Mike also has a small selection of fresh produce for sale, all set out casually like a farmers market. In the chiller cabinet you'll find products like Flying Pig bacon (pasture-raised, double cured and chemical-free), meat from Feather and Bone (all sourced within NSW using sustainable practices and 'humane' farming, transport and butchering methods) and Pepe Saya cultured butter (made from Country Valley Dairy cream).
The canteen-style set-up at Kitchen by Mike
The food is served by staff behind the counter, all set out in enamel trays or terracotta dishes, with prices and descriptions marked on little place cards. Mike is usually on the service line, patiently waiting for customers to make up their mind on what to order. The plates are then shuffled down the line to a staff member dedicated to working the cash register.
Roast pork belly with mustard fruits $12 per piece
The food isn't cheap but what price on quality and provenance? The salads are especially inventive and enticing, with bright bursts of colour and interesting combinations.
Peach, radicchio and parsley salad $7 per scoop
Cabbage, hazelnut, orange and radish salad $3.50 per scoop
Caponata, fetta and peas shoot tartine $9
The open kitchen provides a birds-eye look of all the action that normally takes place behind-the-scenes. One moment we're watching the chef knead a batch of pizza dough. In the next minute a giant wooden paddle is brought out and a fresh margherita pizza assembled for cooking in the woodfire oven.
Pizza on a giant paddle ready to go in the oven
Margherita pizza $8.50 per slice
Spicy sausage pizza $8.50 per slice
Tarragon roast chicken $12 per piece
Stewed eggplant and okra with cardamom $7
Peach, radicchio and parsley salad $7
The $7 scoops of salad are quite modest in size too, but you can't fault them on flavour. Stewed eggplant and okra are soft and comforting in a thick tomato sauce. Meanwhile bitter radicchio leaves make a terrific pairing with blushing sweet peaches and parsley leaves.
Roast pork belly with mustard fruit $14
Fennel, walnut and grape salad $7
And of course you know I went for the pork belly, cooked to a mouthwatering tenderness and topped with a blistered tile of golden crackling. I opt for the fennel salad that provides a fresh counterbalance to the richness of the pork, particularly with the inclusion of walnuts and tiny little grapes that burst with sweetness.
2011 The Consequence natural wine $7.50
Natural Selection Theory cider $7
For drinks we test out The Consequence natural wine. "It's still alive! Everyday it tastes a little different," explains the man behind the counter. It's a reasonably dry red wine, and not quite as rough around the edges as the Natural Selection Theory cider which is described on the menu as "deliciously feral". The cider has a cloudy mustiness to it, without the crisp sweetness found in most commercially produced ciders.
Brutti ma buoni biscuits $2 each
Apricot and almond jam tarts $6.50 each
Rosewater and pistachio meringues $3 each
Brutti ma buoni biscuits $2; Rosewater and pistachio meringue $3
Flourless chocolate cake $7
A trio of desserts provides a tasty conclusion. The flourless chocolate cake is an elaborate construction of mousse on top of an airy sponge-like cake. Brutti ma buoni means "ugly but good" in Italian. These almond biscuits possess the kind of crunchiness that's perfect for dunking in a cup of coffee or tea.
The rosewater and pistachio meringue is a cloud of sugar dusted lightly with pistachio crumbs. Crisp meringue shell is the only armour that protects a fluffy centre of rosewater-flavoured marshmallow.
Flat white $3.50
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Kitchen by Mike
85 Dunning Avenue, Rosebery, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9045 0910
Monday to Saturday 7am-6pm
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2/20/2012 01:42:00 a.m.