In Short: Anvil Café and Grocer joins the list of impressive cafes that have opened in Crows Nest over the past year. Great coffee with a strong menu. The Ivan was a standout dish. Love the grocery concept as well.
I have been following the Anvil journey since they set up their first café at Kirribilli Wharf. At the time, I thought it could have been possibly the most beautiful café spot in the whole of Sydney. It was part whimsical, part genius, with amazing views, and small waves lapping up against the wharf as you sipped your coffee. It may have been due to this location’s accessibility, but the team decided to move further up the north shore to Artarmon, and more industrial digs. In keeping with its name, the fit-out was industrial and rustic, and it fitted like a glove, surrounded by car workshops, and light industrial work spaces. Now in 2017, it seems Anvil Café and Grocer has found a middle ground with their new location in Alexander St, Crows Nest.
Situated adjacent to the huge Woolworths re-development, the café is now only minutes from the corporate hubs of St Leonards and North Sydney. As well as serving food with Mediterranean spice and flair, there’s a grocery section with a selection of gourmet ingredients.
First order of business is launching into a flat white, that sits in front of me, teasing me with its magical aromas and rich golden hues. Anvil use beans from local Sydney roaster, Sample Coffee Roasters. The Pacemaker blend starts out sweet with a burst of currants and finishes off with sticky caramel notes. As are the hallmarks of a great coffee, both temperature and textures are perfect. Presentation, like the taste, is golden!
One breakfast item that stood out for me was the scrambled eggs, fresh pesto, tomato salad, bocconcini and toast. I have to admit, I have soft spot for basil pesto scrambled eggs. Gnome Espresso used to serve some of the best pesto scrambled eggs in the city. Fortunately for me, Anvil have stepped up, and serve fluffy, creamy eggs with specks of basil and hues of green through the folds of egg. I love the herbaceous punch that comes through with the pesto, along with textures of almond and it’s nutty flavour. It’s a great little brunch dish with the addition of a tomato salad that’s dressed with a balsamic vinegar dressing and generous amounts of soft bocconcini.
If one visit wasn’t enough, we returned the very next day to sample Anvil Cafe and Grocer’s lunch menu. The Ivan intrigues us in name alone, and with the dish sitting on the table, I am struck by the colours. A chicken dish with roast paprika, quinoa, currants, and kale topped with two poached eggs. It’s a dish full of hearty flavours that swings between spicy and sweet. I enjoy the contrasting textures of quinoa, nuts and currants. Perfectly poached eggs completes a well balanced, earthy dish, that pleases and satisfies the most famished of souls.
Continuing with the Mediterranean themed menu, is a slow cooked lamb with cous cous, and roasted Kent pumpkin. Tender lamb just melts in your mouth, with the cute, spherical-shaped cous cous providing texture, and is playful on the palate too. There’s also that nutty goodness of the Kent pumpkin, that plays so well with the lamb. It’s a really well put together dish, with the lamb being the hero, and a supporting cast of ingredients that provide a warming depth of flavour.
While the whole kombucha movement has come off its viral highs, we love seeing this tonic across drinks menus in Sydney, and will jump at the opportunity to try one when it’s available. I love the aromas emanating from this pineapple variety. The addition of pineapple juice adds a subtle tropical sweetness which aids in tempering the vinegary after taste quite successfully. It’s refreshing and delicious and what’s more, good for your gut too!
Rounding off our lunch retreat at Anvil is a filter coffee. It’s a Colombia Omar Herrera Soto single origin coffee, which yields distilled subtle flavours of citrus and honey. It’s a medium bodied coffee, with low acidity. On a winter’s day, there’s nothing better than holding this blue cup close and enjoying tiny sips, letting that lunchtime just drag on just a tad longer.
I, for one, am glad that Anvil Cafe and Grocer has set down roots in Crows Nest. A relaxed space where you can grab a quick meal, or linger for a little longer. As we head into spring and summer, I can imagine the cute little sitting spaces out front will become popular. The Crows Nest café scene definitely has stepped up a gear in the last 12 months, and for many of us who work or live in the area, it’s only good news!