From donuts to breakfast ramen, we got the lowdown on four one-of-a-kind breakfasts from Sydney’s Inner West.
Breakfast Donuts with ricotta, grilled peach, honey and ginger crumb
It didn’t take long for the cinnamon breakfast donuts at the newly opened Mr. Caf and Bar in Balmain to make a name for themselves.
“I was the pastry chef at The Pig & Pastry in Petersham and we made donuts every day,” said Greer Rochford, head chef at Mr. Caf and Bar.
“Rather than just having donuts as a take away thing, I wanted to create a whole dish based around them. My main passion is pastry, so this dish is my little baby where I can use lots of pastry techniques.
“We make the yeasted cinnamon donuts the night before, roll them out in the morning and let them prove until they’re about double the size. Then we roll them in cinnamon sugar and fill them with maple ricotta.”
The donuts are then served with a ginger crumb, which Rochford makes using a grain-free Honey granola made with walnuts, cashews and almonds blitzed with gluten-free cornflakes and brown sugar. A grilled peach is added, before the dish is drizzled with maple syrup and topped with a lavender flower. The granola features on other dishes at the caf, with Rochford a fan of using ingredients across multiple dishes.
“It adds a little bit of consistency and you’re less likely to waste things if you use them across the menu.
“In the future I’ll change the dish to keep it seasonal. Maybe something like rhubarb compote in the centre during winter or a lemon curd with macadamia crumb,” said Rochford.
“We always want to have the dish on the menu; it’s getting more and more popular every day.
“Donuts especially are a blank canvas for flavour and texture. I like to think conceptually and am inspired by the nostalgic interpretations we have with certain food. I also enjoy balancing flavours and thinking of interesting combinations, I love using spices and infusing sugar and butter.
“[But] I do like to keep things simple – I have a tendency to want to balance two elements – both in terms of flavour and texture. I thought quite visually and the flavours followed… Whenever I come up with new ideas it's usually breakfast based. I find they allow me to be the most creative because anything goes really.”
The sideways shuffle
Newtown stalwart Cuckoo Callay opened just over three years ago and the sideways shuffle has been a staple on the caf’s menu since day one.
Co-owner Eleanor Harris told Hospitality magazine the dish was inspired by an anniversary trip to Est. with life and business partner Ibby Moubadder, a few years before Cuckoo Callay was born.
“One of the starters was crab with avocado and sweetcorn. It was so good, I guess it stayed in our minds,” she said.
“[When we opened Cuckoo Callay] we found a really good crab supplier through a friend and we wanted to use his product. So we thought back to that dish and it was summer so we decided work with avocado and sweet corn. It’s got a watermelon base, then an avocado and sweetcorn salsa with fresh herbs, a crunchy crab cake that’s pure crab and panko crumb, with a poached egg on top. Then we’ve got cucumber and lemon jelly on the side.
“The jelly is there because the dish was quite subtle in terms of flavour otherwise. We did want it to be quite subtle because it’s about making the crab shine, but it needed something to give it a hit.”
The dish has stayed unaltered, despite multiple menu changes and the increasing cost of ingredients, like avocados.
“They’re super expensive at the moment and we have noticed that our food cost percentage has gone up. But we don’t pass it on the customer, we don’t reduce the portion size or increase the price – you just have to suck it up.”
Traditional Turkish breakfast
The traditional Van style breakfast dished up at Balmain’s Efendy is all in service of the owner and chef Somer Sivrioglu’s mission to promote Turkish cuisine.
The breakfast features more than 30 components including four to five house-made Turkish pastries like simit and pogaca, three types of organic jam imported from Turkey, four types of Anatolian cheese, spreads like grape molasses and tahini, a house-made hazelnut paste, menemen eggs, and house-made pastirma and sujuk.
To drink is Turkish tea and coffee, although, Sivrioglu told Hospitality that because Turkish coffee isn’t too everyone’s taste – it’s quiet very strong and never served with milk – they’re happy to let diners bring Italian coffees in from next door.
“It’s all served on a one meter board for people to share,” said Sivrioglu. “It’s exactly like what you would get in Turkey on the weekends – we do it on Saturday and Sunday.
“When you sit down the board comes along with all the cold stuff and the bakery items. Then straight after that we bring out the haloumi and the meats, and while you’re having that more things come. So it’s not the exact same time, more like the warm stuff comes five to ten minutes later. It’s always shared dishes, we never do individual. And we don’t cook to people’s liking. We’re normally really flexible with the dinner menu catering to things like vegetarian and gluten free, but for the breakfast we just have so much stuff.
“The labour-cost is quite high because we spend a lot of time making it but we set ourselves the goal of promoting turkey in Australia, so it’s worth it.”
The popularity of ramen has been steadily climbing in Sydney and Rising Sun Workshop in Newtown was at the forefront of that trend when they opened their pop-up in 2014 after a crowd-funding campaign.
“It was the pop-up that gave birth to the ramen. Then we sort of went off the map while we were getting the new place ready, but ramen had become attached to our brand and we had become attached to it,” said head chef Nick Smith.
“Then we had the problem, for lack of a better term, of how you curate a breakfast menu around your lunch menu if it’s all ramen. We had the equipment so why not use it?”
The breakfast ramen uses the same broth that makes up Rising Sun Workshop’s dark ramen from the lunch menu. Where it deviates is the tare.
“In one direction, for the lunch ramen, we add a shoyu tare. For the breakfast ramen I was trying to get something that had body and that was very outside of the norm for a typical Japanese ramen, so shoyu, shio or miso tare. We take a white, fluffy loaf-style bread, melt down some butter and pour it all over the torn up loaf, then roast it in the oven and blitz it. It gives the idea of a really thickly buttered slice of toast. Then we have the ramen noodles, an onsen egg, which we sear on the flat top to add some structure, some dry roasted tomatoes which we season with togarashi, spring onions and of course smokey bacon,” said Smith.
“Ramen in Japan is all provincial interpretations, so while I was initially scared of doing ramen as a non-Japanese person outside of Japan, that gave me courage to sort of think that you can take the tradition and make it your own. It isn’t one thing, it’s an interpretive dish.
“People have been generally pretty open to what we’re doing. I think we all get very comfortable with what we think a caf is and what a restaurant is and what breakfast is and what lunch is, and what brunch should be. I’m never comfortable within in those walls; I like to muddy the waters."