Punctuation. It changes everything. You know what I mean! You know what I mean? Every now and then something comes along in life that can only be expressed in proper punctuation: Johnny Cash! Shane Warne? Lethal body odour on public transport on a hot day... Earl Grey Chocolate!? Life; Garish. Prominent. Breast. Implants. On. 50. Year. Old. Women. Who. Could. Be. Your. Grandmother. Punctuation: where would we be without it?/. I first came across the Single Origin brand on a 2008 stint to Perth. All the way across the other side of this sunburnt country was where I was lucky enough to fall mouth first into a gasp-worthy little latte in an inner-city cafe. I was promptly informed, after promptly inquiring, that it was the beany, caffeinated brain-child of a boutique roaster in Surry Hills: Single Origin. And Being Single really is better, especially when any roasters worth their grind no longer merely bean, they toastie and bircher, as well - and to very, very delicious effect. Single Origin Cafe has been a happy and welcome part of my life ever since I dropped in, there's no question (mark) about it...
Single Origin Cafe is Single + Fabulous, exclamation point. A bit like our good friend Tats. Not only is it rocking an eponymous beatific-brew of consummately warm, nuttied full-bodieded bean, but it has a breakfast and lunch lineup that it is as thoughtful as it is scrummy. At the S.O cafe, poise meets punch: the food is equal part discerning, equal part ballsy. Different and delicious. A little bit cafe, a little bit fine dining, like a ballerina in a white tutu donning worn out black cons and some smudged mascara. It's perfect and it's punk, but it's all grown up.
The lunch menu is something of a seasonal celebration. Keeping ourselves cool and calm in a lavishly minted iced tea, we sussed out a menu that offered way too many delectable paths diverging in what was an extremely yellow wood. Options options options. Beauty really is the beginning of terror: a duck liver parfait with stone fruit chutney and pulled bread...smoked wagyu beef burger w green apple, daikon + wasabi cream? Or a late January Christmas turkey sanga w cranberry stuffing + gravy? We definitely aren't in Kansas any more, Toto. Lunch is a brave affair at Single Origin, and like it or not...you will try something different - and love it.
Tatsu settles on the Watermelon Gazpacho w Cucumber Sorbet, Jalapeno + Prawn. Cooler than the recent offspring of the Kerr-Bloom's, this is a crimson-frozen wonder waltzing in winsome watermelon. The little globs of studded prawn are fresh and salty and succulent, and perfectly puncture the chilli and cucumber sorbet. This is delightful and surprising and so welcome on a Summers day. Icy and spicy and nicey in a pale red-green puddle with specks of crunchy purple - so seamlessly sensory.
My curiosity was not going to shut up until it got it's fill of the Kooky CoconuttedLimed Kingfish Tartar w Betel Leaves. This dish is a wee, dainty little lunch-world all unto its own salubrious self. It arrives on a wooden chopping board, sectioned up in disparate elements for you to compose into exotic little betel-wrapped, munch-worthy morsels. It looks precious and pretty.
This oily, chillied relish is deep and firey and tomatoish. It adds the necessary heaviness to ground the cool, wet kingfish in. Diced and delectable, like a sashimi bruschetta, the textured pocket of slippery fish is herbed and dressed to perfection. The texture is beautiful, creamy and smooth with little islands of toothsome crunch. Dolloping cloudy spoonfuls of mesmerizing fish onto a stunned betel leaf, rolling it up like a dark, pretty secret and dipping it into a little of the chilli adds a whimsical touch of exotic ritual, redolent of distant palm trees and paradises, to an inner-city lane way lunch. Being warned that this was one of the smaller dishes on the menu provided the perfect pretext for doing a very naughty thing...
The breakfast menu was sitting there, all lonesome and wallflowerish at 1pm. They'd stopped serving it over an hour ago. Poor Little Breakfast. You shouldn't be restrained to a particular time of day. Your roasted-muesli-beguiling-bircher-bouncing-toasted-handmade-nutella-sandwich-with-banana beauty should be available all the good, burning day long. What is high noon, what is a clock and time and all of God's whirring history when there are homestyle beans, curried kedgeree, hollandaise and slow roasted tomato to be had? Time, you fickle bugger. You might wrinkle me, paint me grey and take away everyone I know and love, but you'll never get in the way of a good lunch. Nu uh. Not on my clock. I'll take whatever breakfast I can get, even at 1pm.
The Four Cheese Toastie probably wasn't the wisest thing for someone who really hasn't been sticking to her gym schedule with quite the vigour and consistency she should be to order. But hey, I tried ordering the Bircher and they couldn't do it after 11.45, so the four cheese toastie seemed the only way to go. I could've asked for one cheese, but that would have been so lost and lonely, just one cheese between two slabs of enveloping sourdough. Two cheeses is more Romeo + Juliet, but whereforeartthou, Mercutio? And then three is an odd number, so I may as well let them add another. Four Cheese Toastie: you dirty, delicious sticky-salty-mustard-licked-little-cheese-filled, grilled transgression. Sin as Sandwich. Tangy and creamy and with thick-crunchy OldSchool bread - and with an inch of token green on the side. Cholesterol honestly never tasted so damn good. You must try this sandwich. Go onnn...do it! Your gallbladder can pick up the pieces later. That's what it's there for!
A sublime, milky latte - beguiling of bean, and you have everything you ever came into this wonderful life for: a good brew, a killer sandwich and some great company. You simply can't put a fussy taste-bud wrong at Single Origin. The food is so intelligent it probably has a higher IQ than you, but don't take that personally. Single Origin, we love you and everything you touch turns to yum.
Alas, as if they were actually taunting us, they only open weekdays. I guess when you're this good, it's definitely your pretty, little prerogative to call (and brew) the shots. Single Origin is a great Sydney story, from humble (single) origins into the oft fickle heights of Starry-Sydney-Foodie-Heaven. An ethical, solid stellar. Lovely, attentive staff mean that you shouldn't be deterred by the inevitable crowds you'll probably run into at peak lunch and brekkie times. It's worth an itsy bitsy wait.
Single Origin Cafe happens at 60-64 Reservoir St, Surry Hills. Ph: 9211 0665, Website here.
Great Coffee + Epic Food. Exclamation Point!