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Monday, February 20, 2012

Kitchen by Mike, Rosebery

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.

Koskela showroom

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

The tarragon roast chicken is succulent but at $12 per piece - yes, that's $12 for a chicken leg - you'd want it to be. It's cooked with onions, carrot and pinenuts and served with a splodge of silky garlic aioli.

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

There's a kid-friendly vibe to the friendly, and yet the space is still quiet and peaceful enough for couples seeking a low-key weekend. Having said that, business seems to be booming in only in its second weekend of trade, with waves of people arriving even mid-afternoon. Get in while you can.

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Kitchen By Mike on Urbanspoon

Kitchen by Mike
85 Dunning Avenue, Rosebery, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9045 0910

Opening hours:
Monday to Saturday 7am-6pm
Sunday 8am-5pm
27 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 2/20/2012 01:42:00 am


  • At 2/20/2012 2:00 am, Anonymous Sophie @ teathyme said…

    Interesting place, like how it's been set up. The food looks enticing too!

  • At 2/20/2012 7:30 am, Blogger Ramen Raff said…

    The pork belly & crackling looks amazing! Nice choice with the fennel salad. Oh my, looks like I have to head to Rosebery soon :)

  • At 2/20/2012 8:39 am, Blogger Peter G | Souvlaki For The Soul said…

    Another cute discovery Helen! I must say, the food looks fantastic…I especially love the salad combinations! Thanks again!

  • At 2/20/2012 8:55 am, Anonymous Tina@foodboozeshoes said…

    Gorgeous food, but seriously - pricing is a little steep.

  • At 2/20/2012 9:12 am, Anonymous lau@corridorkitchen said…

    It does look pretty pricey... Gorgeous looking food, but I don't think I'll be stopping by anytime soon.

  • At 2/20/2012 9:22 am, Anonymous gaby @ lateraleating said…

    Love the concept of the place. I'm a firm believer that the quality of ingredients has a huge impact in the end product and therefore I don't mind paying more for good food.

  • At 2/20/2012 10:00 am, Anonymous Nic@diningwithastud said…

    What a great concept - the food looks amazing too!

  • At 2/20/2012 10:29 am, Blogger Simon Leong said…

    It all looks so good I want to try it all :-)

  • At 2/20/2012 10:41 am, Anonymous Minh said…

    Love that you beelined for the Pork ;). The cider sounds really interesting, I find the commercial stuff teeth-hurtingly sweet so I'd be keen to try some "deliciously feral" stuff lol.

  • At 2/20/2012 11:04 am, Anonymous Paul said…

    I'm definitely going to have to try this place

  • At 2/20/2012 11:26 am, Blogger Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said…

    Looks like a little oasis of a town snuggled in the city.

  • At 2/20/2012 11:38 am, Anonymous Apple said…

    Mmmm the food does look delicious. Its a pity its a bit pricey. I love the decor though.

  • At 2/20/2012 1:50 pm, Anonymous QueenMab said…

    The place looks very interesting, nice concept but I agree with the comments above about the prices: too expansive for a casual lunch.

  • At 2/20/2012 5:40 pm, Anonymous Maureen said…

    I keep going back to that pork belly photo. Geez that looks good. What a great concept - I hope they have magnificent success.

  • At 2/20/2012 9:25 pm, Anonymous gastronomous anonymous said…

    i really like this place! cant wait to go back... love the look at the pork belly!!!!

  • At 2/20/2012 9:26 pm, Anonymous Anna @ the shady pine said…

    What a fabulously interesting place...I love that kind of creativity!

  • At 2/20/2012 11:07 pm, Anonymous penny aka jeroxie said…

    How weird that a bunch of us went on the same day and not one bumped into each other. I love this place. Heading back for sure.

  • At 2/21/2012 7:53 am, Blogger Buggles and Squeak said…

    We saw you 'snapping away' last Saturday. What a great spot for lunch this is.
    Reminds me a little of John and Peter Canteen.
    The Caponata was absolutely delicious as was the potato gratin (seriously one of the best we have eaten). Would be great if they opened for dinner

  • At 2/21/2012 8:03 am, Blogger Unknown said…

    Ooh that pork belly looks amazing although a cafe and homewares store would be a dangerous combination for me!

  • At 2/21/2012 8:19 am, Anonymous Ken said…

    Food looks great and I love the idea. But those prices are offensive. Makes me want to stay at home and cook.

  • At 2/21/2012 6:46 pm, Anonymous Dee@foodinhand said…

    O.M.G moarrrr photossss. Still dying to go. It is a touch expensive but I'm hoping this just means it's guaranteed deliciousness <3

  • At 2/22/2012 6:02 pm, Blogger Mel said…

    Salad by the scoop - what an interesting concept! I love the two koala's sitting patiently at their table awaiting their meals - too cute.

  • At 2/22/2012 10:56 pm, Anonymous Vivian - vxdollface said…

    What an interesting place, will check this out - great natural lighting for photography :). But that piece of pork is a bit steep o_O

  • At 4/16/2012 10:55 am, Anonymous Ardi Pradana said…

    We went there because of our friend's recommendation after reading this post. We went for the breakfast menu and there wasn't a lot to choose from. The lunch menu however looked very good!

  • At 3/03/2013 8:32 pm, Blogger carmen said…

    I went here today after reading this review on your blog. It was an absolute delight despite the windy line that began at its entrance. I particularly loved their refreshing salads, tangy pine-lime vanilla drink and pork belly!

  • At 5/26/2013 7:08 pm, Anonymous Letty said…

    Just wondering if the enamel tableware are for sale at Kitchen by Mike?

  • At 5/26/2013 10:05 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Letty - Yes you can buy the enamel plates from Koskela in the adjoining showroom.


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