Black Pony Cafe

Coogee Bay Road Coogee, NSW 2034

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Opening hours Mon, Tues and Sun 7am-4pm; Wed-Sat 7am-late.
Phone 9664 9440

Memory lane and Coogee Bay Road intersect at Black Pony Cafe. This eatery, just blocks from Coogee beach, is named after a pet the owner, Kate Geale, had when she was five. Despite this childhood link, her establishment is quite grown-up.

The menu - recommended by a friend who used to work at Newtown's Black Star Pastry - is sophisticated; Black Pony Cafe has a liquor licence on the way, and its decor is smart. Before opening last December, Geale ''jackhammered everything off the walls'', stripped away the fluorescent lights and found, under three layers of floor tiles and one of shabby vinyl, elegant wooden boards. The discovery made her cancel the flooring shipment she'd ordered from Queensland. Should the warm-toned interior not feel cosy enough, there are blankets on offer - handy for anyone seated outside, in the sea breeze.

Geale previously ran Stockmarket Cafe in Leura, but got ''tired of the mountain cold'' and set up here, along with her chef from that venture, Nicole McIlwaine, who worked with Steve Manfredi at Bel Mondo and at MG Garage with Janni Kyritsis. So it follows, the food is good.

Topping the must-order list: buttermilk pancakes served with blueberries, ricotta and a knockout combination of caramelised banana and maple-walnut praline. It's insanely addictive. My friend enjoys his ''salmon benedict'' breakfast, while my sauteed mushrooms with sage and garlic, on seedy Sonoma bread, are brilliant. A side of herbed baked beans is good - but cold. I later learn the kitchen is down one chef; perhaps that makes the long wait between dishes understandable, too.

The Allpress ''Supremo'' blend makes a fine strong coffee and the iKOU tea range includes an extremely mellow brew of green tea, passionfruit and rose petal.

So there's an upside to the mountains' cold weather - Coogee gains a cafe with class.

Black Pony Cafe

Address 52 Coogee Bay Road, Coogee, 9664 9440

Open Mon, Tues, Sun, 7am-4pm; Wed-Sat, 7am-late