In short: A great addition to Willoughby Road with outstanding cafe fare and an infusion of Japanese flavours. Coffee is excellent.
Coming into work on a Monday morning is bad enough but imagine when you open your email and find you are being relocated as well. The disappointment was compounded as I quickly did a mental lookup of great coffee in St Leonards. The results returned a big fat zero! St Leonards is an enigma in that it’s a bustling corporate area filled with cafes, yet the quality of coffee is of middling quality. Decent, but nothing outstanding. I would like to tell you I began tirelessly searching for great coffee in the area, but actually, it was an instagram post from Choclatesuze that piqued my curiosity. I walked to Crows Nest and to Double Cross Espresso Bar to audition their coffee. After a week of drinking their flat whites, the cafe had become my new local. I had been saved! While not quite in St Leonards, it was a healthy 10 minute walk from my new office location.
Having perused the menu, I knew I had to come and sample lunch at this little cafe located on Willoughby Road in Crows Nest. It’s hard to really pigeon hole the type of food that Double Cross creates. It’s a fusion of Japanese flavours and French techniques yet each item on the menu sounds so delectable, it makes it hard to choose, as you want to sample everything!
First I needed a coffee and I strayed from the tried and tested flat white to sample their pour over. It’s a Guatemela single origin coffee. It arrived at the table in an oversized beaker filled with amber coloured liquid. It’s visually striking. Served warm with gentle wisps of steam wafting away, it’s a delight. I enjoy the honey and fruity notes. It’s quite possibly the best pour over I have had all year. With a silky smooth texture and delicate coffee flavour that gently lingers on the palate, summoning me back for another sip.
Definitely one of the more intriguing items on Double Cross Espresso Bar’s menu is their Mentaiko pasta. I love the minimalist look of the dish. There aren’t copious amounts of ingredients. Rather, just the pasta, a 63 degree egg and a dollop of creme fraiche and an adornment of roe. The key to enjoying the dish is breaking apart the perfectly cooked egg, letting the lava of yolk run free, and then mixing it together with the creme fraiche, pasta and Mentaiko. The result is a flavour packed mouthful of fishiness from the Mentaiko(marinated cod roe) combined with the richness of the egg and cream. I love the saltiness from the marinated cod roe and soy sauce. There’s hints of lemon too. I also adore the crunchy texture of the roe. Like in Italy, where the best pasta dishes are the simplest ones, this Mentaiko pasta is hard to beat for flavour and oh I almost forgot, the pasta is perfectly al dente!
From a Japanese inspired dish, the Double Cross team exhibit their knowledge of the classics with their take on a confit of salmon with a funky titled “It’s Unusual”. Alongside the salmon, the 63 degree egg makes another appearance along with spinach espuma, homemade hollandaise and rocket salad. It’s another beautiful dish to look at. The salmon has a slight pink blush, yet is cooked just perfectly. Morsels of fish fall apart with just the slightest amount of pressure from my fork. Salmon flavour can sometimes be really strong, but I love the muted salmon essence in this confit. The slight wobble of the egg hints of cooked perfection. Spinach espuma is not an accompaniment that I am familiar with, but the pastel green is indicative of an injection of cream involved in the preparation and it partners well the salmon. A perfectly roasted slice of tomato is slightly sweet, yet acidic enough to cut through the natural oils of the salmon and richness of the egg. It’s as good to look at as it is to eat.
As we transition from variability of spring into warm summer days, it’s a perfect time of year to sample a tea from Double Crosss. I asked Double Espresso if they had iced tea on their menu, and while they do not officially list it, co-owner Quinton obliged and experimented with Rabbit Hole‘s choc orange fudge tea. Quinton explained that he steeped the tea longer than usual to ensure that the strength of tea would stand up to being poured over ice. He was right. I enjoyed the orange flavour tinged with the flavour of milk chocolate. A drizzle of sugar syrup balanced the acidity perfectly. It was cooling, refreshing, and tasty. Suffice to say, we now have a canister the choc orange fudge tea on our shelf at home.
Fellow Coco and Viner Mavis will never pass up an opportunity if a cafe does it own dessert, especially when it’s a Tiramisu. Double Cross have 2 tiramisu creations, a matcha and traditional. Mavis opted for the traditional tiramisu. The cake was comprised of layers of three sponge fingers saturated with coffee and liqueur which give off those heady aromas and signature taste of a great tiramisu. It is dusted with cocoa powder, topped with a generous dollop of mascarpone, and garnished with an edible flower. Between the two of us, we had little trouble polishing off the delicious Tiramisu, a cake that comfortably stands up to any tiramisu you’d find in the city.
We have quickly become fond of Double Cross Espresso Bar. Its proximity to my workplace will ensure that there are many repeated visits. For those of you who live on the other side of the bridge, it’s definitely worth the drive over on the weekend for their Edition Coffee Roasters sourced coffee, Rabbit Hole tea and ultra refined food.