Forget avo on toast, Devon Café is here to give you something a little different.
The Light-Rail is proving to be a bit of a nuisance for Sydneysiders. However, amidst the mess of the construction zone sits Devon Café, a hole in the wall that is introducing modern oriental flavours to brunch.
A quirky pop hidden in the heart of Surry Hills, Devon is loved by trendy locals and critiques alike. Winner of the Best Food Café at the Good Café Guide Awards 2014, the café is now hoping to warm up the city fringe with a fresh kick of Asian flavour this winter.
Bracing the manic CBD streets on a workday, we escape the foot-traffic and jolting noises of the construction zone and take refuge in Devon.
For Friday lunchtime the crowd is large and causal. Passing through the timber dining area at the front of house, we dine in a shed-like outdoor area. Contrasting the clean aesthetic that beckoned us inside, the outdoor setting is grungy and urban. The perfect complement to the intensely modern dining experience we are about to have.
Sipping on coffees, the adeptly friendly staff guide us through the menu and their winter warmer recommendations.
We start with bruschetta ($16). A pumpkin puree base is slathered with a delightful messy mix of nori, nuts and seeds. It is clear that this is no taste of Italy. We have stepped into health food heaven, but it rarely tastes this devilish.
Although the nutty blend would suffice as a standalone topping on the piece of chargrilled sourdough, Devon could hardly stop there. Blobs of immaculate goats curd are hidden beneath the guise of nutritiously crispy kale.The crunch of the kale is a thoughtful partner to the bitter curd. The elements are worthy partners to the pumpkin batter, rendering the addition of two poached eggs ($7) unnecessary.
An ideally light serving, the bruschetta will undoubtedly serve as a go to for Devon lovers whether they are starting their day or passing by for lunch.
From simple to heavy, we couldn’t resist tempting ourselves with something more substantial. An irresistible cluck, we opt for the Yakuza chicken burger ($19.50).
Served on a board with a generous jar of seasoned chips and a proportionally indulgent mound of aioli, from the outset the burger is nothing revolutionary. Although the teriyaki chicken is tender, the juices from the chicken flood the burger leaving behind a soggy milk bun. The cos lettuce wedged at the bottom of the patty is a harmless addition to the dish.
Nevertheless, Devon’s secret sauce appropriately challenges the teriyaki flavour for the rule of the roost. Sandwiched between the competing oriental inspired sauces lies the mozzarella katsu. Crumbed and fried the mozzarella promises to deliver a gooey delight, but the result is underwhelming. Upon slicing the mozzarella, the stringy expectation is replaced by a hardened reality.
Before we choose to face the remainder of Friday, dessert hits the table. Hojicha Cookies N’ Cream ($17) is its name, but something completely unexpected is its game.
A Japanese green tea, almost every element of the dish is infused with the dulcet Hojicha flavour. An intricately planned and platted dish, the dessert is light with each element adding to the comforting experience of the dish.
Resting atop of a Hojicha crunch, a creamy panna cotta-esque cake floats as the nucleus of the dish with other elements circling idly around it. Without the addition of the crumb and stiff shards of chocolate, the cake cream would be somewhat bland. Nevertheless, it is an interesting introduction to the Japanese tradition.
The dessert sides are, similar to the main event, hit and miss. The Hojicha sponge is delicate but relatively unimaginative. Despite being shielded by the overuse of Hojicha, the yuzu gel and pops of mandarin add much needed zing of zest to the smooth but reserved dessert.
As more and more cafés line the gentrified streets of Surry Hills, its hard to ignore the rustling at Devon Café. The atmosphere and staff are modernly impeccable.
Some may struggle to become accustomed to the inventive flavour combinations, but for those willing to take a chance on this constantly buzzing café their palates will soon adapt.
76 Devonshire St, Surry Hills
(02) 9211 8777
Open Mon-Fri 7am-3.30pm, Sat-Sun 8am-3.30pm