I first came to know about Marrickville as a teenager, watching the little Phillips colour TV in Canberra, as Jeff Fenech pounded his way to 4 world titles as a boxer. Fenech was known as the ‘Marrickville Mauler”. But it would be a couple of decades before I actually set foot in Marrickville to sample the diverse range of food offerings.
Marrickville is somewhat enigmatic. It’s part gentrified, but you don’t have to walk very far to see its industrial roots. It’s only 10 minutes to the middle of Sydney CBD, but still maintains an edgy feel. While it may have taken years to first tread the paths of Illawarra and Marrickville roads, I am back here at least once a month now because Marrickville has transformed into a coffee and café destination. The king of Illarwarra Road has to be Cornersmith. Located on the corner of Illawarra Road and Petersham Road, this once sewing shop has a bright airy feel with 270 degrees of windows allowing tonnes of light in. There’s a homely feel with a combination of small tables and a bar style setup.
Now let’s get down to the serious stuff – the coffee! Their cappuccinos are from a Mecca Blend. My coffee is medium-bodied, strong enough to awake the senses with its intensity yet balances really well with the milk. It’s a smooth and beautifully textured cup that is easy to get through really quick, which is a shame as I yearn for another cup! Cornersmith gives a nod to Central America for the Espresso lovers with a Nicaragua Nano Chala and, for the filter gurus, a El Salvador El Valle.
If for some bizarre reason you don’t love coffee, there are other funky beverages to get excited over. How about a whey fermented fruit soda or Katie Swift cordial? Definitely old school drinks. The soda for example, is made using natural fermenting processes that meant sodas like the one available at Cornersmith, and those back in the day, were actually considered a health drink. Sadly, the proliferation of sugar packed, mass -manufactured sodas has muddied the soda drink name. But, hopefully a ground swell can develop with the likes of Cornersmith leading the way with healthy sodas!
The big blackboard is your menu and is split into a few sections. Cornersmith supports local farmers and produce, and is against factory farming. There are clues in the menu to the provenance of some of the menu items. Take for example the Archerfield Eggs, or the pasture raised ham. The offerings are diverse, from soba noodles to kohlrabi, labneh and hummus – there’s plenty of variety to keep coming back. For something sweet, well there’s muffins and a glasscase of goodies. I sampled the brownie. Soft, moist, and a rich chocolate flavour. It’s not too sweet either, so you won’t have any trouble finishing this little log of yumminess.
If you come early on the weekend, or at lunch, it may be a bit of a battle to get a seat, so be prepared to put your name down and go for a wander. Or, you could do what I did and come in for a late Sunday lunch, grab a bar seat by the window, and watch the cosmopolitan crowd of Marrickville pass by.