In Short: District Café in Marrickville offers up a new level of visually engaging spaces, and combines that eclectic experience with outstanding food and top-flight coffee. With touches of Berlin club culture and retro chic lounge, District breaks the mould and delivers a fresh take for the Sydney café crowd.
Different is always good in my books. New experiences are the reason I get up in the morning, so when we heard about District café in Marrickville and it’s fresh take on the café experience, we made a beeline to Addison road in the ‘Ville’, post-haste!
Greeted and seated by Kat, our super-chilled and very welcoming barista, we settle into a front row window seat in this amazingly eclectic and visually engaging space. Its vibe is somewhere between Berlin nightclub and retro chic lounge. I love the contrast of textures and colour as the eye dances from cartoon collages to cubby-holed curios. The Easy Rider vintage chopper beside the coffee machine, the car tire hanging planters, rich velour couches, and carefully nestled skull chotskies, all testify that District is definitely not another generically beige, barista-barren, half-caf skinny latte, chain café. Throw in a little mix of Kraftwerk and vintage Madonna, and we’re definitely not in Kansas anymore!
To be honest, this is exactly the kind of inspiration the Sydney coffee scene could use a lot more of. And since we’re being honest, we all kind of know that Melbourne has it all over Sydney in the café department, and Sydney’s been frantically playing catch-up since the coffee tidal wave swept the nation. Innovative takes on the café theme, like District, can push Sydney into a new direction and make a mark for itself, rather than always just nipping at the heels of the café cultured king that is Melbourne.
Enough of my wanky, esoteric musings on the direction of the city’s coffee destiny, the real rubber hits the road in any café when the cups and plates hit the table, and District delivers the goods in every way. Chef Richard, a veteran of the Sydney food scene, has conjured up a mosaic of flavour influences that pull in elements from the Middle East, Europe, Asia, and modern Australian cuisines. All these come together seamlessly to create a menu that invites with innovation, and delights in degustation.
A little pick-me-up kicks things off with the cold drip that refreshes and sparks with notes of citrus and dark chocolate.
Tucking into the first plate, the Black Caramel Ham Sanga has a name that jumps right off the menu and into your mouth. I mean, Black Caramel Ham… how could you not order that?! Sure enough, the smoky, glazed, BBQ ham is unmistakable in every bite. Combine that with the zest of Dijon, the gooey sharpness of cheddar, and the sweet zing of pickles, and man, this sanga is a seller for sure.
Coffee break! The cappuccino has a Golden Cobra for a heart and a light, sweet froth for a head. When we come across a cup drawn from the fangs of this golden serpent, we savour it for its bright, complex, and distinct flavour profile. If you’ve never tried Golden Cobra coffee, you must.
Poached Eggs sounds simple enough, right? Well, with Chef Richard behind the magic curtain, there’s a little more than you’d expect on this plate. The textures and tastes of smoked trout, pickled beets, walnut tarator, dill, and cranberries co-mingle with superbly poached pearl-like eggy orbs into a melange of flavours that act as amplifiers for each ingredient. A dip of yolk, a crust of sourdough, a touch of beets, and the mouthful is an orchestra of ‘oh my’…
Sculling a jug of juice has never been so easy. Especially when it’s a delicious beetroot, carrot, apple, and ginger concoction, handily whipped up by our masterful, multi-talented new mate Kat. So yum!
You can get avo on toast pretty much on every corner in the city these days, but I promise you won’t so easily find anything as good at the Chopped Truss & Avo Toast with pomegranate, herbs, and wait for it, mounds of feta and smoked salmon. I mean, check out that salmon! No wonder world fish stocks are dwindling…they’re all right here on this plate! This dish alone could see me though my protein needs for the week. Bravo Richard! So fresh and satisfying.
With the hard yakka of consuming a school of salmon and some of the best ham and eggs in town done, it’s time to round things off with a civilised, spicy spot of tea. The Brewer Chai Tea chimes in with distinct notes of cardamom, laced with honey for a sip that says sit and stay a while; so we do.
Watching Marrickville pass by from the window of District café, with a warm cup of chai in hand, could just be one of those moments when you realise that no matter where the Sydney café scene is bound for, it’s pretty damn good right now.
District café in Marrickville should be applauded for breaking the mould and creating a space that tempts all the senses. Here’s to being different, and doing it in a way that also welcomes everyone to experience it. Nicely done!
* Coco & Vine dined as guests of District.