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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cafe Sopra and Fratelli Fresh, Waterloo, Sydney


Shopping for fruit and veggies should always be this fun.

There's a great sense of adventure when exploring the market-style setup at Fratelli Fresh in Waterloo. Admittedly it's more fun if you don't look at the price tags, but quality comes at a price, and this price buys you luscious, heavy, vivid and gargantuan specimens of deliciousness, all artfully arranged in rustic wooden crates.




Pig Flyin introduces me to his favourite part of the store: the balsamic vinegar and olive oil trolley. A wooden waiter's trolley is laden with all the very best bottles of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, the kind you whistle over when you read the price tag, but never think you will get to try.

Next to the bottles is a little tower of mini plastic cups ready to use for tasting. Usually the trolley is manned by a helpful staff member, but sometimes noone is around and you can taste test them without the pressure of a salesperson breathing down your neck. Pig Flyin and I do a quiet "cheers" with our thimbles full of balsamic vinegar, and tasting so many at once does illustrate why you'd want to pay more for the good stuff. There really is a huge difference.

And after a bout of shopping, and a few thimbles of vinegar and olive oil, there's always room for lunch - at Cafe Sopra, only a flight of stairs away.

Linguini with seafood, lemon, chilli and garlic $22

A huge sun-drenched dining room greets you at Cafe Sopra. There's no menu, only a daily menu written on the towering three-metre high blackboard. The range of options is dazzling, and my notorious indecision is on public display as I stand there, motionless in the middle of the room, whilst a flurry of waitstaff bustle past me with plates of food from the kitchen.

So. Many. Choices. It can't even use my finger on the page as a marker as I whittle down my choices. There's just a lot of head bobbing and shaking as my eyes try to take in the entire menu that deserves to be on an Imax movie screen.

Once we've decided and ordered, the food doesn't take too long to arrive. There's plenty of people-watching to do anyway, the room filled with a cross-section of young families, yuppies, Gen Y diners, and a group of Italians in the gingham-clothed private dining room to the side ($500 for room hire and food whether it's for 2 or up to 10 people).

Linguini with seafood is a tangle of al dente pasta that's tumbled with a generous amount of fish and prawn. The prawns are a standout - really fresh and sweet. The garlic oil has a surprising amount of chilli, and it's lifted with the zing of lemon zest.

Vitello tonnato $18

This is my first introduction to vitello tonnato and I can see why it has its fans. Thin slices of cold veal are amazingly delicate and tender, the veal stack dressed with a tuna mayonnaise made from pureed tuna, olive oil, anchovies, egg yolks and lemon. Scatterings of black olives, capers and anchovies add saltiness and textural interest. It's topped with two paper thin slices of cheerful lemon.

Capellini with lemon, chilli, parsley and pangrattato $16

Capellini with lemon, chilli, parsley and pangrattato is a lesson in the joys of simplicity. The satisfying crunch of deep-fried breadcrumbs against the silky smoothness of pasta is one that should be enjoyed more often. Lemon, parsley and chilli add lightness. I've made this plenty of times when the cupboards are bare.

Pan-fried sardines with stewed tomato bruschetta and pesto $20

The pan-fried sardines have plenty of flavour, thick meaty fillets with a golden-seared skin. It comes on a bed of stewed cherry tomatoes and a side of thick slabs of toasted sourdough. A dollop of dark green pesto adds a nutty sweetness.

Pork terrine with spiced quince $18

My favourite dish is the pork terrine with spiced quinces, a door-stop wedge of terrine that is decadent with chunks of pork that flake with ease. It's more like pork rilettes, the sweetness of the pork marrying brilliantly with the aromatic spiced quince, heady with cinnamon and star anise.

Sweet pork, tart quince and the crunch of toasted sourdough. It's delicious.

Rays of sunshine warm our faces through the window and we listen to the happy clatter of diners. There's no room for dessert today but tomorow is another question.

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Cafe Sopra on Urbanspoon

Fratelli Fresh Waterloo
7 Danks Street, Waterloo, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9699 3161

Store opening hours:
Monday to Friday 10am - 6pm

Saturday 8am - 4pm

Sunday 10am - 4pm

Cafe Sopra Waterloo
Upstairs at 7 Danks Street, Waterloo, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9699 3174 (no bookings taken)

Cafe opening hours:

Monday to Friday 10am - 3pm

Saturday 8am - 3pm

Sunday 10am - 3pm

Related Grab Your Fork posts:

Danks St Depot, Waterloo

19 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 8/11/2009 02:50:00 am


  • At 8/11/2009 7:47 am, Blogger tori said…

    Great post- beautiful photos. Sopra is my peter pan happy place in Sydney. I love how they change the accompaniments to the terrine with the seasons. But promise next time you'll save room for the banoffee pie- it's the stuff dreams are made of.

  • At 8/11/2009 9:02 am, Blogger 3's said…

    This is my usual Sunday morning breakfast spot. I also found that it's best to come here early. Preferably before 11am. Guaranteed seating and fast service.

    Then do the shopping afterwards. Browsing with full stomach full helps beat impulse spending :)

  • At 8/11/2009 9:19 am, Anonymous Minh said…

    Oooh you just beat me, I was planning on hitting Sopra this saturday! Love how all the pasta looks, can't wait for the weekend to come now

  • At 8/11/2009 9:20 am, Anonymous Katherine said…

    Pan-fried sardines yummy. It goes so well with tomatoes. I normally have pan fried sardines with a tomato salsa and some steaming hot rice..

  • At 8/11/2009 9:53 am, Blogger Unknown said…

    Note that Cafe Sopra on weekends does have a bit of a queue, we've waited anywhere from 15-45 minutes. But it should, as the fresh pasta Cafe Sopra makes is delectable in its wide variety and taste. Besides avoiding the queue another reason to arrive early is because around 2-3pm the chef begins striking out the more popular dishes from the menu!

  • At 8/11/2009 10:17 am, Anonymous Linda said…

    ooh the market is soo close to my work place and it opens on Sundays as well.. Woot! I can check it out this weekend. Thankks heaps. Oh I love buying fresh produce from the markets as well, you just know that despite the price tag, it's gonna be worth it.

  • At 8/11/2009 12:21 pm, Blogger Stephcookie said…

    Fratelli and Cafe Sopra is one of my favourite places to go, it takes me so long to stand in front of that huge blackboard and decide what to order! I always enjoy the simplicity and quality of their dishes and their cheesecake is to die for!

  • At 8/11/2009 2:43 pm, Blogger Simon Leong said…

    looks like some great food choices. the Capellini sounds really yummo and i'd be very tempted to try their Linguini with seafood. i always love walking around Fratelli, it always makes me hungry.

  • At 8/11/2009 4:42 pm, Blogger Peter G | Souvlaki For The Soul said…

    I love going to Fratelli Fresh Helen! Looking at the prices can certainly give yo a heart attack! I've eaten at Sopra a few times...and I always enjoy their freshly made dishes...

  • At 8/11/2009 5:34 pm, Blogger Betty @ The Hungry Girl said…

    Ooh, I just drove past Fratelli today and I thought to myself that I HAVE to go, and then I saw this! Thanks for the post, now I'll know what to keep an eye out for! Looking forward to eating at Cafe Sopra as well :D

  • At 8/11/2009 5:37 pm, Anonymous Vivz said…

    What a coincidence because I made the trek there the past Sunday!
    I was wondering what the other dishes look like and now I know. :)

  • At 8/11/2009 6:23 pm, Anonymous Dom said…

    Fratelli Fresh is the BEST

  • At 8/11/2009 8:01 pm, Anonymous Jacq said…

    Looking at the photos and reading about the food at Cafe Sopra literally made my mouth water! Must go and pay them a visit soon :)

  • At 8/11/2009 10:13 pm, Anonymous Trisha said…

    Oh that is a big piece of pork terrine! And nothing better than shopping for fresh, quality produce on a lovely Sunday morning!

  • At 8/12/2009 3:17 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Tori - Oh everyone needs a Peter Pan happy place :) And I've always wanted their Eton Mess. I do love a banoffee pie, although realistically both are so ridiculously easy to make. Tempting!

    Hi 3's - I agree, waiting for food is never fun especially when you're hungry! I like your tip with the shopping on a full stomach. I try not to fall in that trap because it's amazing how much more stuff you think you really really need!

    Hi Minh - Have fun at Sopra. It's a lovely day out doing some food browsing and then having a lovely meal. Enjoy!

    Hi Katherine - Sardines do go really with tomatoes. I have to say I haven't had sardines with rice before though. Sounds good!

    Hi Shor - It's always stressful when you see the white lines start appearing on the menu! Agree, it's always better to have an early start to avoid the queues and get a full range of the menu.

    Hi Linda - Lucky you. You can go for a lunchtime stroll every day :)

    Hi Stephcookie - I must've looked so awestruck, but there are so many options that I found the effect quite dizzying! Cheesecake eh? I might have to order one of everything off the dessert menu next time!

    Hi Simon Food Favourites - Nothing like a good browse around a food store to whet the appetite. The produce always looks so fresh and bright and shiny too.

    Hi Peter G - Yes I prefer to look at the produce and try to ignore the price boards above them. The fridges have a trove of treasures too. The Cafe was great. A treat to see original seasonal dishes.

    Hi Betty - What great timing. lol. Danks Street is becoming such a great little food suburb. Hope you get there soon!

    Hi Vivz - I actually had lots of fun trying to surrepticiously look at everyone elses dishes when I walked past their table!

    Hi Dom - I take it you're a fan? lol

    Hi Jacq - Am sure you will have lots of fun browsing Fratelli Fresh, and then exploring the food at Sopra :)

    Hi Trisha - The terrine was enormous. We struggled to eat it all, but of course, we managed to, in the end :) Weekend food shopping is always good. Hmm food shopping anytime is good!

  • At 8/12/2009 12:50 pm, Blogger Debzillah said…

    I'm really quite ashamed to admit that, despite the fact that I live locally, I've never checked out the danks st depot. It definitely has to feature on my to do list!

  • At 8/12/2009 3:55 pm, Anonymous evecho said…

    FF is a joy to visit and Cafe Sopra never disappoints. For a great brunch (must have glass of Italian sparkly) be prepared to spend, but it is worth it.

  • At 8/12/2009 9:49 pm, Anonymous Reemski said…

    I can't believe they let you take pics! Every time I've tried I've been asked to put the camera away! Lucky you!

  • At 8/13/2009 12:30 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Debzillah - I think that everyone is guilty of "the grass is always greener" and neglecting their own "backyards". Hope you get there soon. It's a leisurely way to spend a weekend!

    Hi evecho - I always feel sleepy after wine so rarely have it at lunchtime. Great to hear you are such a fan of Fratelli Fresh and Cafe Sopra.

    Hi Reemski - lol. Sometimes it pays to err on the side of discretion and speed :)


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