Those red velvet pancakes. They've been all over my Instagram. That graduated tower of pancakes with fresh strawberries, layers of whipped cream and a generous blanket of icing sugar always looks picture perfect. The Local Mbassy might not have been around for long - it opened barely eight weeks ago - but there are already 456 location tagged photos. And 128 of them include their red velvet pancakes. That's 28% of all photos... from a menu with 24 dishes on offer.
Stools with bicycle pedals
The Local Mbassy is one of the newest cafes to open down this end of Ultimo, about hafway between Parramatta Road and the Sydney Fish Market. The boiler room inspired decor includes a tangle of exposed pipes overhead, hanging exposed pendant lights, vintage paraphernalia behind the counter and the coolest set of refurbished bicycle stools I've ever laid eyes on. It's a shame they don't actually pedal otherwise you really could burn off your calories as you eat them.
Spray painted mural by Sydney artist, Sid Tapia
And it's impossible to miss the feature mural on the raw concrete finished wall by the entrance, a colourful Sydney identity during the Prohibition era. The 1920s theme is backed up by a soundtrack of jazz numbers, guaranteed to get you in a good mood. If that doesn't work, you can always count on the Campos coffee brewed on the gleaming La Marzocco with copper detail to get you buzzing.
Piccolo Campos coffee $3.00
The menu, bound in beautifully heavy slabs of Tasmanian oak with a laser-etched logo, is broken up into breakfast, starters and mains. The options cover all bases, from traditional full English breakfasts to on-trend shakshuka baked eggs in a tomato sauce to fancier sumac poached chicken and crispy skin salmon. Drinks include organic sodas and smoothies that have all the hipster essentials like organic goji berries, flax seeds and cocoa nibs.
On a Friday lunchtime, the place is heaving with local workers, residents and students by 12.30pm.
Smoked salmon and rocket bruschetta $11
The smoked salmon and rocket bruschetta is likely to stop all table conversation when it arrives, graffitied with balsamic glaze and drizzles of beetroot yoghurt in hot pink. It's a light dish but it'll tide you over if you're only feeling slightly peckish, slices of smoked salmon draped on seeded bread slathered with cream cheese and dotted with capers.
Beetroot quinoa salad $16
We skip the chicken and mango salad - we're not sure where they're sourcing mangoes in the middle of winter - and zero in the beetroot quinoa salad. It's a pretty dish, a moulded ring of quinoa surrounded by roast beetroot, seared haloumi, radicchio and cherry tomatoes, but the quinoa itself is a little bland and lacking in dressing. The candied walnuts on the other hand, we could eat by the truckful.
Herb beer battered fish $18.50
with orange watercress salad and chips
Today's herb beer battered fish is barramundi. We're pleased that the fish is freshly battered but just wish the ratio of fish to batter wasn't 1:1, making for a chewy fish fillet against a somewhat heavy batter.
Double baked wagyu beef burger with chips $16
I order the double baked wagyu beef burger that arrives on a huge wooden board shaped like a meat cleaver. The wooden board might be everywhere these days but the customised engraving here scores bonus points.
Double baked wagyu beef burger with tomato chutney, gruyere and rocket
The burger is tantalisingly hefty in size, slapped in a bun that is not - thank heavens - made from brioche. You can get salad on the side but why would you when a burger and chips makes so much more sense? The chips are thick steak-cut style, fried long enough so there's a good crunch to the edges. And I love that it automatically comes with a tub of tomato sauce for mandatory dipping.
Tomato chutney and gruyere cheese in the double baked wagyu beef burger
The burger itself gets two thumbs up with its thick wagyu patty that is equal parts tender and juicy. The gruyere cheese has melted across the top of the patty, the tomato chutney gives a lubricating sauciness and the bun is soft but still structurally sound enough to hold up to the last messy bite.
Red velvet pancakes $15.50
Every second table has an order of red velvet pancakes. Most of them are Asian. All of them take a photo before eating it. It's hard not to.
The pancake stack looks good from every angle. There are little details that make you realise how much work goes into this $15.50 construction, like the way the pancakes gradually decrease in size as you get to the peak, and how each pistachio has been meticulously placed with even spacing around the plate.
Together it eats like a dream. The pancakes are soft and fluffy with discernible cocoa notes and the fresh strawberries provide a fresh counterbalance to the generous lashings of whipped cream. You'd probably want to share this with a friend, but if you can polish off this whole plate I like you even more.
I was a little obsessed with the mural on the wall, and in my research for this piece, discovered it was completed by Sydneysider, Sid Tapia. You may have noticed his work on the old Sydney Water pump house near Sydenham station, the former graffiti eyesore now brightened by a Let It Shine mural of his daughter surrounded by balloons. Look out the left hand windows of any train heading toward the city from Sydenham station. His work can also be spotted around Marrickville, Chippendale, Newtown and Bondi Skate Park.
Check out the hyerlapse video above of Tapia completing the mural from start to finish. There's also a very cute video clip of his daughter spotting herself from the train.
The Local Mbassy
310 Wattle Street, Ultimo, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 8084 3467
Monday to Friday 7am - 4.30pm
Saturday 8am - 4.30pm
Sunday 8.30am - 4.30pm
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8/13/2015 01:40:00 am