A toasted sandwich is like a security blanket that is never outgrown. Grill bread, let it turn satisfying shades of golden brown and combine it with the melting point of cheese - these things conspire to create the best in comfort food.
Ling-Hsueh Tang would know. She grew up on the classic ham-cheese-and-tomato combination and her cafe, Big Mouth, specialises in jaffles. Popular orders are the Chile beef, Italian chicken and golden ham. Early birds can also order breakfast jaffles, filled with baked beans or scrambled eggs. Morning-compatible extras, such as hollandaise, bacon and tomato relish, can be added.
At lunch, workers from nearby offices file by the counter to place their orders. My friend and I take refuge in the courtyard, where the pace is less frantic. He orders a Mexican bean jaffle ($6.50), which contains a jackpot of spiced beans, avocado, corn, salsa and cheese. My potato-and-olive combination, with tapenade, sun-dried tomato and onion sealed in with cubes of potato, is pretty good - although the still-hard potato could have done with more cooking time, to make the filling more of a soft, oozy, flavoursome mess.
A must-order item is the wonderful dessert jaffle - it's like an apple pie in toasted-sandwich form.
And while the Single Origin coffee (from $3) is good, Big Mouth has other beverages to try. There are delicious ''lush crushes'' in summer-reviving flavours, such as lychee and mint, or mango, peach and lime. And the ''Arnold Palmer'', an American drink Tang came across when she worked at South in Neutral Bay, is an ultra-sweet blend of iced tea and home-made lemonade.
There are also Tea Drop brews, ''adults only'' milkshakes and iced green tea with mango.
A big mouth may be handy in order to negotiate so many intriguing offerings.
Address 139 Harris Street, Pyrmont, 8084 6888
Open Mon-Fri, 7.30am-3pm