In Short: Belgrave Cartel in Manly is the epitome of that “funky” café we’re always searching for. An eclectic menu with outstanding coffee and people that really care about what they do. Belgrave Cartel is well worth the drive to Sydney’s Northern Beaches.
“There must be a funky little café around here somewhere…” is the much-heard hunting call of the Common South-eastern Urban Café Junkie. Usually found roaming their native city streetscape with smartphone in hand, this particularly tenacious sub-species of Café Junkie has a penchant for patina, and an eye for shabby chic. Nesting in hip cafes and backstreet holes-in-the-wall, it’s the pursuit of “funky” that drives their hunting instinct. What is “funky” though? It’s a little bit design, and a lot of je ne sais quoi, but when it’s right you know it…and Belgrave Cartel in Manly, is right.
It’s a sunny summer afternoon that finds us exploring Belgrave Cartel’s cosy courtyard that blends exposed industrial textures with inviting greenery. It’s a mosaic of spaces and motifs that makes this café as satisfying to the eye as it is to the palate. The indoor spaces are a bohemian bounty of dark woods, retro lounge, and vintage chic; the flavours of a Spanish bodega and local Parisian coffee house entwined.
What makes all this even better is the relaxed, but passionate, approach of Belgrave Cartel’s hosts, like our server Matt. With a genuinely friendly style, he has our coffee orders in the queue and then in our hands along with Belgrave’s enticing menu.
Extracted from a custom blend, the cappuccino is a bold cup with deep and complex notes of nuts and chocolate. The froth is silky, with just the right balance of lightness and body. Stirred through the coffee below, the mingling yields nothing but deliciousness.
Kicking off this brunchy/lunchy session on a healthy note, the Coco Joe Granola Bowl is a heaping bowl of goodness and yum. It’s satisfying base of crunchy, burnt fig, nut, and seed encrusted granola is a stage for the honey-drizzled berries, pear, and passionfruit that give pop and tartness. A crown of coconut yoghurt and a dashing of coconut flakes are the topper to this delectable day starter.
The sun is out and the thermometer is on the rise, so iced coffee springs to mind. As with the “cap”, with a base blend so good, you just know it can handle anything you can do to it. This refreshingly icy treat balances sweetness with complex flavours that complement the creamy finish.
It’s back to the plates again with the Cartel Big Breakfast. A straight up serving of brekkie favourites with enticing accents that lift it above the ordinary. Eggs resting on a chewy and crispy sourdough slice while vibrant grilled tomato and mushrooms wait to accompany each bite. Pepper dusted avocado leads the greens contingent with farm fresh asparagus and spinach. Add a touch of the creamed feta to the mix, and we’re in brekkie bliss.
One last caffeinated shot across the table’s bow with a smoothly satisfying flat white and our Belgrave Cartel culinary commune comes to a delicious close.
So, to end this post on the funky note it started on. If you’re on a mission to add a generous side of sophisticated funk to your search for top notch coffee and eclectic café fare, Manly’s Belgrave Cartel has it in spades and then some. Next time we’ll be back to Belgrave to soak up its vibrant, wine bar side after dark. This is no one trick pony!