Sunday, August 9, 2009

Practicing Pieno (aka, Pieno Cafe, Surry Hills)...

Any way you look at it, Surry Hills is a bit of a conniving bitch. On the one hand, it's the Skinny Jean Clad ModelCumDesignType Capital of The Eastern Suburbs, and on the other hand: so much good food and cake and coffee and bread. Billy Kwong, Emon, Suma, Mohr Fish, Shakeies, Mad Mex, Bentley, Table for 20, Pizza Mario, Souk in The City, Bourke St Bakery, The Book Kitchen, Fifi Fouveaux, Kawa, The Goods, Pizza E Birra, Bird Cow Fish. Jesus. More like, Cow Cow Cow. Even 7 for All Mankinds probably don't have a fit for tubby old me lately. Thank Zimmermann/God for the Maxi dress, especially now that Pieno has arrived. I'm sorry, that should've been Arrived with a capital A. After all, Pieno is playing some pretty damn fine food. Mother always said practice makes perfect, and, after 4 visits in 7 days, I feel perfectly ready to recite this magical mouth music before you.

Since i've pumped that pun for all it's worth (and maybe even a little more), i'd better tell you that pieno is italian for 'full', as in really full, as in really, really full of really, really good food. Fully Sick! Just when I was OhSoOver pretty much every food spot on Crown, along rolls out yet another dazzling mouth jewel. This Beautiful In Black little nook of a cafe sits opposite Kawa and behind a sandstone wall, just alongside the little entry that goes into Thomas Dux. It looks like a precious little black jewel box, charming, cosy and quirky in intense flickers of brilliant wall colour. Tiny on the inside but not at all cramped to sit in, it is a perfect, peaceful sun-catcher of a spot to coffee, breakfast or lunch. I spent a few hours reading here the other day and actually heard birds chirping, in Surry Hills. Realistically speaking, they were most likely the final, fretful dying screams from polluted budgie lungs, but the effect was quite quaint nonetheless. Silence is like a Golden Gaytime. Forgo the ear for a moment, though, and let us please the mouth...

A very discerning barista with silent, intent focus turns out gorgeous flat whites and the best tea I have had in a while. I am up to my old tricks of taking my tea around with me (this time a Punjabi Chai) and having it made up with Bon Soy. Even this level of psycho-analility doesn't ensure me a good tea, but at Pieno, Oh, Delightful Exception! I am twinkling my toes as I recall the barista checking my pure Bon Soyed (no water) Steamed-Creamed-Floating-Chai-As-Sigh-Froth-Broth was okay because he forgot to warm the pot first. Firstly, he knows to warm the pot! He actually gets that it makes a difference! Secondly, he forgot to warm a Zero Japan pot! A perfect pale pink ceramic embrace for my vanillaed chai! This caused joyous brain reverberations which are still (clearly) being felt! Most places that offer tea, even when they use a great leaf, are lamentably clueless on how to steam and infuse the milk, also on how to serve the tea. Thumbs up to Pieno for actually showing some culteavation, thumbs down to me for tragic puns.

The home made muffins, especially the Blueberry Baby, are a wholesome, moist, moorish Berry-Studded delight when gently toasted and smeared with rich butter. Don't even get me started on how good it is to wash down a gentle, buttery, berried mouthful of this with the smooth, warm chai. Most muffins are too dry and far too large, this is dense and so flavoursome, clearly made in house, you can actually taste the berry as it stains through the softness of the muffin. SO good and so gentle tasting, rich but not too sweet. They also have a dried fruit/oat version. Yummy, deep rich Sweet Heat Treat to in a Seat, Eat.

I apologize most sincerely for the absence of any breakfast shots, the heaving plates of golden breakfast bounty which we saw carried passed us after we'd order our sandwiches were torture to watch go to other tables. I nearly left Tats to go and join the BaconNEgg Crew. SunsetInOia OrangeYolkRich eggs with a gorgeous in deep golden, potato rosti, decadent lashings of fabulously fried bacon and dark, richly cooked steaming, buttery mountains of sauteed mushroom with foreboding slices of wholesome sourdough and house made tomato chutney. Breakfast Bruschetta, Breakfast Panini, Breakfast Rolls...forming all over your tummy! Not impressed, much? Perhaps some Blueberry griddle cakes with maple syruped madness will sort you out! All of those are fine, resounding options, unless you happen to subscribe to the Cult of The Sandwich. If you do appear to be one of my brethren, and indeed believe that a simple, well made Sandwich can, in being more than the sum of its scrumptious parts, out Fine any Fine Food any Fine Day, then go Miss Fine all over one of these...

Meatball Sandwich. Well toasted meatball sandwich. Well toasted meatball sandwich on Crunchy-Moist-Delicate-Oiled-Bite bread. Well toasted meatball sandwich on Crunchy-Moist-Delicate-Oiled-Bite bread with an intense smothering of Fire-Fire-Fire-Red Tomato-Pine-Nut-Current Mouth Mess CherishAsRelish. Well toasted meatball sandwich on Crunchy-Moist-Delicate-Oiled-Bite bread with an intense spread of Fire-Fire-Fire-Red Tomato-Pine-Nut-Current Mouth Mess CherishAsRelish and gooey strings of CreamyMakeBelieveMe molten grilled cheese..%^%*! The little balls of rich meat cleave into the rich tomatoed cheese and bread, wafting somewhere between the sweetness and the salt: Divinity As Sandwich. This is so good, meaty, cheesey, sweet and salty with crunch and lick. Moorish, soft, steaming filling encapsulated within sure, thick slabs of perfect sourdough and grilled to within an ounce of its delicious life.

The roast chicken sandwich with delicate tracings of grilled, salty pancetta, vine ripened tomato and steady lashings of chive mayo is as almost as divine, but Tats still holds pride of place for the mammoth Chicken Schnitzel with Italian coleslaw and aioli. The flavours are so deep and heady and true, you really taste the tomato relish and the cheese, all perfectly balanced proportions between filling and bread. These servings are huge and so filling. V.E.S. Very Exciting Sandwiches.

But, if sandwiches are not quite cosmopolitan enough for your liking or your licking, then go a panini, bambini, with SappressaSpiceSalami/Chargrilled PlantOfEgg/Sweet Peppers and Mozzarella. You can even get your panini to cameo with some home made soup or salad. The Salad list is just as wow-iful, haloumi can be had, and have it you should, with toasted pine nuts and rocket on some char grilled sourdough. Fresh, frickin fabulous food. Flavour Fire Cracker. Styled and sturdy basics, with amazing ingredients and flavours that sing.

Frothy fresh JuiceFruit in OrangeAppleGrapefruit, brewed chai, Chocolates-Hot and Iced, Smoothies (Banana+Honey, Berry+Vanilla, Mango). And, to Erin's delight, instead of Phoenix Organic Cola Nut with Honey, which is all the poor kid can get in the East, they actually stock good old fashioned Coke, can you imagine, moite! Nothing like a happy fizzed-up Bogan for you. Jumping Jack Flash! Eat Eat Eat. Drink. Talk. Sit. Watch. Read. Sip. Bite. Smear. Slice. Dip. Cut. Share. Hoard.

Pieno, and more frequently, myself, happen at Shop 11/285a Crown St, ph 8354 1303.

The best Sandys I have had in a long time. When you finish one of the meatball or the roast chicken, it's a somewhat sad and desolate world that you find yourself in. All at once, in a tear in time, you find the solitariness of the human condition, the pale flicker of relentless yearning place it's cold, sure grip over the empty heaviness of your sunken heart: Saaaandy, cant you seeee, I'm in miseryyyyy, we made a staaaart, now we're apaaaaart, there's nothing left for me, love has flowwwwn, all alone, I sit and wonder Why-Y-Y oh Why, you left meee, my sandy...

Don't bother, i'm already disappointed in myself. Really.

Enjoy Pieno x

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Couldnt agree more it is like being in a cafe in Florence. Great food and coffee!

Anonymous said...
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Simon Food Favourites said...

i really liked pieno which i visited recently :-) i'd go back again.