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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Cornersmith, Marrickville

garlic mushrooms at cornersmith marrickville

Oh Marrickville, how you've changed. Before Cornersmith, this corner premises used to host an old sewing shop. As a kid I'd walk past the big glass windows that gave a view into dusty shelves packed with sewing machine thread. You could barely see past the giant spools of cotton in black, maroon and white, but they never seemed to budge no matter how many times I walked past.

Today the site has been renovated into a bright and buzzing cafe that wouldn't look out of place in Surry Hills or Waterloo. White walls, counter stools and a considered approach to furnishings create a cosy urban cottage feel.

Counter seats

By 9am on a Sunday, there's already a queue. A clipboard by the front door allows people to write down their party name and number which is then managed by a staff member who reallocates newly empty tables.

cakes at cornersmith marrickville
Cake display cabinet including flourless Chinese five spice and chocolate cake, 
gluten-free almond and coconut cake, and quince and apple muffins

Ordering is via the giant blackboard menu, perched high on the wall above the coffee machine. Drinks run down the left column -- including an intriguing quince, pear and clove milkshake -- followed by breakfast and lunch options. In the middle is a list of "produce in this week", a roll call of ingredients and their source, like NSW Country Valley dairy milk, Clarendon Farm free range eggs and "persimmons from Libby and Gabby".

Choko, prune and pepperberry chutney

Backyard produce from the local community is actively sought in-store and via the Cornersmith Facebook page - gardens overladen with chokos, cumquats and mandarins are relieved of their excess bounty where it is then industriously pickled, preserved and bottled by staff. On Mondays the cafe is "closed for pickling"with wares then available for sale to customers.

Flat white $3.50 and Cornersmith chai $4.50

We start with drinks. The coffee -- by Mecca -- has the robustness you want on an early morning weekend and the chai is headily aromatic, made with real spices in a special house blend.

Poached eggs with choko chutney $9
with frisee, pear, radish, fetta and almond salad $4

Garlic mushrooms and vegetables with rocket and pecorino on rye ($10) is the kind of chirpy breakfast even a carnivore would love. Two thick slices of Brasserie Bread rye bread are piled high with baby mushrooms sauteed generously in butter and garlic. Thin strips of red cabbage create crunch, shaved pecorino add richness and sprigs of mint add zing.

Poached eggs start at $9 for two, with add-ons each costing $4. We end up choosing the frisee and almond salad, sweet and soothing with chunks of pear, whispers of radish and generous blobs of creamy fetta.

Choko chutney

The eggs come with a petite dish of choko chutney, this humble backyard gourd amped up the max with onion, vinegar and a heavy hand of spices.

Homemade pumpkin and pear loaf with ricotta, honey and seeds $7

We finish with a doorstop of pumpkin and pear loaf, even more impressive dressed up with ricotta, a drizzle of honey and glistening ruby red pomegranate seeds. Pumpkin seeds and flaked almonds add a delicate crunch against the smooth ricotta.

Breakfast menu (changes monthly)

Lunch and sandwich menu (changes monthly)

Urban beehive honey $10 for 300 grams

On the rooftop is an Urban Beehive, part of a growing movement to help bees and pollination across Sydney. The scheme uses wild bees to popular hives and the resulting honey is strained and bottled for sale. The absence of high temperature pasteurisation allows more distinct flavours to come through.

The honey is thick and syrupy, with an intensity unlike commercial honeys. The current batch comes from flora in Ashfield - it's by locals for locals. Who knew the inner west could taste so sweet?


View Larger Map
Cornersmith on Urbanspoon

314 Illawarra Road, Marrickville, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 8065 0844
Opening hours:

Tuesday to Friday 6.30am-3pm
Saturday and Sunday 8am-3pm
Closed on Monday for pickling

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Marrickville - Sydney Portugal Community Club
Marrickville - Yen for Viet

Cafe - Cafe Sopra, Waterloo
Cafe - Kitchen by Mike, Rosebery
Cafe - Luxe Bakery Cafe, Newtown
Cafe - Sideways Deli Cafe, Dulwich Hill
22 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 5/22/2012 01:11:00 am


  • At 5/22/2012 6:29 am, Blogger Unknown said…

    OMG!!! This is the food I want to be eating! So deliciously healthy and abundant.

    I love the look of the pear bread with ricotta and honey.

    I lived in Marrickville when I was a student about 20 years ago and it was not like it is now!

  • At 5/22/2012 8:12 am, Anonymous Angie said…

    9am on a Sunday for breakfast is so early, I don't know if I could force myself to do it again! :D Definately enjoyed the food though :)

  • At 5/22/2012 8:31 am, Anonymous Tina @ bitemeshowme said…

    that food looks incredible. that pumpkin and pear loaf with ricotta got my taste buds a going!

  • At 5/22/2012 8:53 am, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    ooh love the idea of urban beehives

  • At 5/22/2012 9:12 am, Anonymous Sarah (Brasserie Bread) said…

    Absolutely amazing photos! What a wonderful blog post :) and thanks for the Brasserie Bread mention!

  • At 5/22/2012 9:19 am, Anonymous john@heneedsfood said…

    The pumpkin & pear loaf looks divine! I just may have to get over there one day.

  • At 5/22/2012 9:29 am, Blogger Fouad @ The Food Blog said…

    great review Helen! Didn't know this place existed. Looks fantastic, and I love what they're doing with the locality aspect. thanks for letting us know about it!

  • At 5/22/2012 10:52 am, Anonymous Belinda said…

    Growing up in the inner-west I most def remember this place being a former sewing shop, amongst all the pho restaurants nearby.

    The food looks so wholesome, will have to drop my old hometown to check it out!

  • At 5/22/2012 12:29 pm, Anonymous Chopinand @ ChopinandMysaucepan said…

    Dear Helen,

    This is a beautiful review.

    How cool is choko chutney when I have never ever figured out what to do with them when my cousin give me loads from his garden.

    Was it still a little crunchy with a bite or soft that you can spread on bread?

  • At 5/22/2012 1:56 pm, Anonymous Hannah said…

    I want.... all of it. Poached eggs on toast is my favourite think to order for breakfast at cafes, but ooooh, the sweet treat at the end!

  • At 5/22/2012 2:49 pm, Anonymous Eha said…

    This is the food I wanted in Sydney back when I lived there. Of course, we never looked in any of the burbs now mentioned: sugar, don't make me feel my vintage :D ! Delightful!!

  • At 5/22/2012 3:52 pm, Blogger Mel said…

    I'm desperate to get here...I'm going to take a day off work mid-week & hopefully beat the crowds (if that's possible). I just like the sound of the cafes philosophy...my perfect kind of place.

  • At 5/22/2012 4:46 pm, Blogger Dressed and Eaten said…

    I was there on Sunday at 9am. haha. I didn't see you there. It must have been the Sunday before last. I go there regularly. Great coffee and food. Their homemade jams and chutneys are a real treat!

  • At 5/22/2012 6:33 pm, Blogger Jacq said…

    ooh choko chutney sounds interesting and food looks great! no wonder it's so popular

  • At 5/22/2012 9:49 pm, Blogger jay_dee said…

    this is my old hood, such an improvement on the sewing shop... can't wait to try, looks delicious!!!

  • At 5/22/2012 9:54 pm, Anonymous Billy @ A Table For Two said…

    Hmm urban honey, thick and sweet with a hint of ash? :) I want to try some!!!

  • At 5/22/2012 9:58 pm, Blogger Unknown said…

    Love the casual and laid back atmosphere, always makes the food taste so much better when the decor makes you feel relaxed!

  • At 5/23/2012 2:29 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Angie - lol. Food is one of the few things I will get up early for on the weekend!

    Hi Sarah - You're welcome! Always a treat to have your bread!

    Hi Fouad - Surprised you haven't heard of it, and yes the sense of community spirit is one of the highlights!

    Hi Chopin - I love chokos. My mum simply sautees them in the wok with some water and then a splash of soy. They're also lovely microwaved and eaten on their own. The choko chutney was soft but not spreadable.

    Hi Miss Piggy - The crowds aren't too crazy but then a day off work sounds good too :)

    Hi Billy - Maybe you should start your own hive! :)

  • At 5/23/2012 10:08 am, Blogger Gastronomy Gal said…

    Love the urban beehive idea. Also,love the concept of Hunting for goods through their customers.. Great ideas

  • At 5/23/2012 9:27 pm, Anonymous gaby @ lateraleating said…

    You're right, it doesn't look like Marrickville at all. Love the idea of using local produce in their homemade goodies.

  • At 5/26/2012 11:58 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    SOOO excited to try this place. The poached eggs with frisee, pear, radish, fetta and almond salad sounds (and looks) like my perfect breakfast!

    A pity about the queues... Maybe if I bring them some homegrown cumquats they'll let us skip the line?! ;)

  • At 7/10/2012 11:29 am, Blogger Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said…

    This is so not the Marrickville I grew up in! But a bit of change and variety is always good.


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