You could walk past Gnome Espresso and Wine Bar and completely miss it. Truth be known, I came to know of Gnome for their great coffee first. When on Crown Street Surry Hills, I would usually make a beeline for Gnome for a takeaway coffee but struggled to find any signage to the name of the cafe. Perhaps the little gnome drawing or gnome statue was a give away for this cafe that sits on the corner of Crown and Davies streets in trendy Surry Hills.
Everything about Gnome Espresso is diminutive. The cafe seats less than 20 people, and you do sit close to one another, yet you never feel your personal space is being compromised, and the ambiance is just perfect. Must be the patronage as every time I have been here, the noise levels never rise to a level where you need to ever raise your voice. I love the intimacy of the cafe, it has a cosy welcoming aspect. In keeping with the space, the menu is just two pages. One page of food which is split up into all day breakfast of 7 choices and lunch from 10am with 5 choices. The dark green awning and yellow washed walls of the exterior combined with the leafy trees adjacent to the cafe take me back to Paris, but let me assure you that’s where the similarity ends, as the coffee here is superior to any you would get in Paris.
My cappuccino is a dark handsome coffee with just the perfect rosetta. The beans are by Brewtown Roasters. Interestingly before Brewtown which is now the dominant cafe in Newtown, there was Gnome. While Gnome might be the little sister, the old saying “good things come in little packages” is true here with the coffee at Gnome. The overriding theme with this coffee is subtlety. There’s strength, hints of acidity, richness, yet so smooth. The coffee flavours lingers a little and just long enough and you are ready for your next sip.
Food is not long in coming. I order the slow roast pork, fried egg, hommus and kale on brioche. The dish is pretty, presented as an open style sandwich with a perfectly shaped and cooked sunny side up fried egg. The colours are vibrant, a bright yellow yolk, and dark green glistening kale. The egg is propped up by slivers of roasted pork and all of this sits on perfectly toasted brioche buns. The pork is slightly salty yet perfectly tender, the hommus has a nutty flavour with a grainy texture and the kale diminishes the guilt factor with it’s earthy yet fresh slightly bitter flavour cutting through the richness of the pork and egg. The brioche is super light, and crispy!
The wife has the daily special which is a meatloaf burger with cos lettuce, cheddar, tomato, beetroot relish, cranberry sauce and bbq sauce on brioche. First of all this burger is huge it all has to be held together by a skewer! The meatloaf is cut into a perfect circular patty to resemble a burger, soft and tender, and moist too. There’s crunch from the cos lettuce, sweet yet tangy bbq sauce. The cranberry sauce on the other hand, reminds me of Christmas, sweet yet with a bite of vinegar. The sauces do not compete, and are perfect partner to the meatloaf. There’s a variety of flavour profiles in the burger yet you don’t get any one ingredient dominating the palate. It is indeed special.
To finish our experience at Gnome I complete it with a cold brew. While it’s a restrained coffee, there’s a gentle pops of citrus and berry flavours. It has a tea like finish. Most times I start off with a cold brew, but this time the cold brew is welcome as it washes away the remnant oils from my lunch and really does refresh and cleanse the palate.
Gnome Espresso and Wine Bar, is cool, and intimate space on Crown Street, it may not have the bling factor, but it does have warm welcoming service, brilliantly consistent coffees and a solid food offering with inventive and interesting specials. If you are after more than a coffee in the afternoon, there’s 4 wine options that are under a tenner for a glass too. If you are in the city, then it’s a quick sprint up Devonshire Street to Gnome!