Wednesday, May 13, 2009


there are lots of odd combinations in this world: strawberries and balsamic, roast chicken basted in coca cola, dark chocolate and pale pink peppercorns, O.J Simpson and a not guilty verdict. some of them work, some of them don’t. adriano matteoni works. this scottish-italian hybrid human is truly one of a kind: rollicking, speedy, nervous, cheery, cheeky, moody, energetic, styled, furiously flirtatious briskquickquickhowdoyoudotakeaseat have a coffee type lad. a cad. a chap. a lad’s lad. a ladies man. a jolly, smile-inducing whatthefuck smack-in-the-ear to early morning coffee seekers. a fella. hes like a trailer for a guy ritchie film, but he’s no fiction.

the boy knows food. the boy knows coffee. the boy knows why Danish furnishings are the only kind to buy. the boy knows his business. the boy knows he knows. the boy has an opinion on bread. on property. on cars. on bicycles. on where to live. on how to dress. on exactly how I should be living my life. oh, ardri. his mouth is a mile a minute incomprehensible litany of god knows what, i hardly understand a word he says, the accent is thicker than his velvety lattes and twice as frothy! that has not, however, been any impediment to a friendship that has grown itself out of awkward run ins since I first met him at the UNSW coffee cart in 2001 (like me and my uni degrees, this one gets around a fair bit).

ardri manages to greet you, to flirt with you, to insult you, to serve you to gossip with you about your friends and make you smile while nervously dashing in and out of eye contact and leaving you with an overwhelming impression that hes just about the most likeable person you are ever likely to meet. hardly anyone ever walks away from an encounter with ardri without smiling a little to themselves in a gentle coffeed confusion. to appreciate the enigma that is ardri, you need to understand something quite fundamental: he is a grown man with the soul of a four year old little boy, really excited about what he’s done and really eager to show and tell, let him regale you with his words and his coffee and your day will be that much buzzier.

he’s got that killer scottish accent and tightwadedness with a good, strong double shot of the italian love of food and coffee, as well as the mediterranean arrogance and disdain for anything that is not simply smackyourlips be-liss (imo). he has measured his competition, and he has come out on top. in his head, the whole world is a bit of a cafe-special olympics, and he is always winning gold. mr matteoni was always going to succeed, having owned some fine cafes in balmain, the entrepeneurial firecracker set his restless, twinkling brown eyes on the much needed foodie revamping of Glebe. hallel-bloody-lujah. cake + the knifers, meet clipper coffee, The Place To Be.

there’s no elegant way to say this, but clipper coffee is as charming as shit. its a whitewash little establishment with green shutters and a deep, earthy wooden table filled interior (‘i’ve had the tables and chairs custom made’). open from 6am to 6pm, it’s even on the right side of the road to catch the reclusive morning sun. so quaint, so charming, so cheery and neat and small and nice, it should have been made out of ginger bread! it’s home away from home to macbook pro toting uni students and tech geeks, also to the builders from next door and the sweet mother and daughter who come in most mornings for brekkie, and to the couple with the adorable son that has the afro, the smile and the curious gymnastics of the very truly young. greg, a thoughtful, smoking vintage car nut who’s followed ardri all the way from balmain can usually be spied out front in the sun with his little dog and the auto section of the paper. the whole set up is a bit of a beatles song, really.

clipper takes its name from a scottish cigarette lighter, and it has already, in its very recent beginnings, set a steady and promethean flame to the glebe point road coffee scene. back in the day, i was a well connected gal, my misspent youth occurred within the grungey surrounds of that classic coffee hole, studying and just being an aimless, caffeniated student, concerned entirely with ideas and not at all with the world. my, my, how far we have come. several years later and i am all the way across the road, doing pretty much the same thing.

across the road, and a whole world away. glebe needed a place like this, most of the glebe point road cafes are much of a muchness, hard to tell apart. ardri, however, has the ambience, the menu and the coffee, down. bloody. pat. this cafe is the classy mastermind of a man at the top of his game. the law group all meets here almost every day for our pre 4 hour seminar splenic tirades (don’t let that turn you off), which are way more appetising when accompanied by potent long blacks, dense gourmet paninis and baked goddamn eggs with HOME MADE napoli baked beans and hella good halloumi...with zartaar toast. yum. dad adores clipper, he is using it as a prime arena for his newly acquired habit.

dad, at the tender age of 70, and with true arab-father cluelessness, has just discovered the wonderful and curious world of Banana Bread. he gleefully smears it thickly with butter and honey, though you’d do much better to try the ardri version which is fresh, not frozen banana bread (it makes a difference, kids), heaving and golden toasted under the bacchian bounty of some sinatra smooth ricotta, honey and berried fruit. its as pretty as a picture in pink AND it turns your mouth into a bit of a Breakfast Club. erin was laying into these a few days a week, but that was before our pre-exam health kick. is banana bread too low brow, too gloria jeans, too run of the mill for some of my more genteel gastronomers?

then get the same decadent topping balancing upon some salacious sour cherry sourdough, not only do you get a delicious breakfast, but you get to quietly condescend to all others as you smugly digest. arabian style bircher is also up for grabs, arabian in that it is laced delicately with cream, pistachio and poached-spiced-fruit and because its the bomb, eating it is like dreaming with your mouth. if brekkie isn’t brekkie unless a hen has laid it out for you, then ardri has some very creative things happening on the very ho-hum egg front. I am continually disappointed with Sydney breakfast menus, they’re very uninventive when it comes to giving you the most important meal of the day. not at clipper, nu-uh. gorgeously bright oranged yolked free range eggs play a starring role in the baked eggs, which come out in a little piping hot glass dish and can be had two ways: with halloumi, beautifully spiced napoli and spunky baked beans or lebanese sausage, fetta and spinach. ardri is a gem with eggs, he knows frying them is a foodie no no, the taste is much richer, deeper and also cleaner when you have them boiled or poached, boiling and poaching also allows you to better taste the freshness and quality of the eggs, which are quite easy to conceal with heavy frying. so why baconandeggroll when you can proscuito tomato chutney pecorino and boiled egg panini? oh yes. you’ll be up at the cocks crow for this stuff.

lunch is a long lineup of luscious lovelies. free range chicken salad with walnuts? smoked salmon salad with boiled egg and spinach and lashings of intense olive oil and lemon? anyone? anyone? any of these beauties will Save Ferris. the sandwich list will simply blow your mind. erin and chad scream over the salami baba ganoush red onion jam spinach fetta job, whereas benji gets his kicks from the open faced smoked salmon with wasabi mayo mix and wedge of lemon to boot, and benji has to get his kicks somewhere. simple food, done so, so well.

rich, true, uncomplicated ingredients. sharp sandwiches and salads. generous, comforting servings, so cheap, so filling, so delicious you’ll rub your tummy, and maybe even the person next to you, in glee. ‘it’s good food’, in that way Scottish people say goooood. the sweets cabinet is an old school boiled lolly shop show case of cookies, brownies, friands, little kisses, little oohs and ahhs of dessertish delight, little naughty shapes and sizes of sweet spiced indulgence. take your sticky pickity pick and settle in with some of the best brew i have ever had.

now, you know i am a tea fiend, and i fiercely remain so, but law (contract law in particular) has driven me to 3 or 4 moments of givemecoffeeandnoonedies in the last few weeks, and this belluciain blend of five single origin coffees is beverage elysium: it is smooth, balanced, nutty. i don’t find george clooney attractive, at all, but it tastes the way his eyes look. dreamy, deep, sweet and inviting. never bitter. never too sharp. never too hot. never too cold. its the holy grind, and clipper is rocking it. all the gang agrees: long black ben, capuccino gill and the occassionalatte, amanda. they even have bonsoy, my first born son of non milk alternatives... the way it drenches your soul.

this is the hardest coffee to say nay to, but i’ve managed to do so by leaving some of my favourite earl grey (hampstead biodynamic loose leaf) with them, which they are kind enough to make up for me! the quality of the water ardri uses in his tea and coffee is purer than the pope in fresh driven snow, so smooth, so light, clean clean clean, it is the perfect pool for some diaphanous leaves. Calmer Sutra chai is on the menu, I am on ardri’s case to smarten up the tea range, but, being a typical (half) italian, he has a very anti anglo disregard for this most incredible imperial institution of insane delight. he’s all about the clipper coffee. as Christian says (in an arnold schwartznegger accent, which is his real voice) ‘you looooove it’.

he’s right, i do. absolutely flawless. welcoming, comfortable, anonymous and friendly. ardri knows his business well, he never rushes or shoo’s out those of us who enjoy cosying up with a laptop or a book in a quiet corner and whiling away a few hours, you are welcome to sit and drift as much as your heart pleases and and as much you’re directionless soul allows. a fabulous reading selection includes monocle magazine (ardri’s favourite), marie claire, all the goss mags and newspapers. clipper has such a community feel, you know the regulars, you smile at each other, you cramp in and up close on days when the uni crowd practically swarms all over the cosy confines.

despite the bustle i still find it quite peaceful when i am there on my own, the music is played a little louder in the morning and wraps around you and makes it so thoughts just spill into and out of eachother. the charm is in every nook and cranny, ardri has milked the ‘look’ for all its worth: old school tea pots and bicycles mounted on the wall, little empty italian mineral water bottles packed tight with honey coloured brown sugar, empty coopers bottles filled with water (the Canadias are pretty upset to get a beer bottle filled with a non alcoholic substance), little potted smiling flowers, high sturdy stools and cosy corners, merry smiles and good business all around. awww, shucks. i think i have a crush.

At 16 Glebe Point Road, Glebe, seven days a week, 6 til 6. come and kick back, coffee, tea, breakfastbrunchlunch. shoot the breeze with ardri, say hey to joe, listen to gill’s thankgoditswednesday shenanigns that leave us howling. at clipper coffee, law degrees do themselves and the most useful days of your life pass you by in a beautiful social blur, near a gentle park with a lulling loch...and not a smidge of tartan in sight.

crazy busy some days, if you have lots of friends, ring ahead and book on 0410 688 954 (that's also his personal number, girls). ardri himself does not understand why you would frequent any other place than his when in glebe, he is as pleased as punch with his latest venture and is hearing his two favourite sounds a lot more these days: cha and ching! thanks ardri xx

special mention to joelle, erin, gill, dana, ben, ash, michael, chad, sean and larissa, even if we never graduate we would have had some lovely breakfast on the way.


ragingyoghurt said...

i often catch my bus from the bus stop right outside clipper - plenty of time to admire the green trim on the outdoor furniture. i think i might have to spend some time *inside* now.

hey, you're back! yay.

Karen | Citrus and Candy said...

Good lord it's been a while but glad to see you're back and lost none of your spark.

I'm sure this cafe's great but I'm too distracted to notice because holy shit, it's good to read your writing again! Love it!

amanda said...

thanks guys! forgot how nice comments are x

reggers said...

Clearly Law has had some sort of impact on your ability to use capital letters. I'm not sure I can cope with this deviation from convention but I like the piece.

amanda said...

heh. when your will to live has been sucked pressing a shift key moves further down the priority list. x

Hello Sandwich said...

nawww what a lovely review! :)
Love Love
Hello Sandwich

dr_pyser said...

just came to this page after picking up your business card while getting a coffee at clipper cafe. what a great blog, thanks! :D

amanda said...

thanks dr, nice to know the cards were money well spent x

Unknown said...

dear amanda,

kan k, the coffee company responsible for clipper have now sold there stake in the shop. i will be starting a new cafe concept at 78 Booth St, Annandale. Dec 1.

clipper was a laugh.

thanks, adri x

streetrave said...

Hope your coffee is as good as your first aider skills, belt n toilet roll?? Hope its not long b4 we share a mug or 2 again bud!