Devon Cafe

76 Devonshire Street, Surry Hills, NSW

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Hidden interior ... the rear courtyard is ensconced in camouflage netting and a vertical garden of herbs and edible flowers. Photo: Fiona Morris

Georgia Waters

I'm eating a dish blanketed in freshly shaved West Australian black truffles, and it cost me $25. Are you waiting for a punch line?

But that's it. Devon Cafe's ultimate toastie must be one of Sydney's most luxurious breakfasts,  but it's a relatively economical way to  enjoy the winter truffle season. Fresh black truffle is shaved over soft, orange-yolked fried eggs on top of sourdough grilled with mushrooms and fontina cheese. Sure, $25 is at the pointy end of a breakfast bill, but if it helps to justify it, have a sandwich for dinner.

Wife-and-husband team Noni Widjaja and Derek Puah have filled Devon, their new Surry Hills cafe, with a talented team: two ex-Guillaume chefs (Bennelong and Melbourne's Bistro) and a barista who used to train others at Toby's Estate. Yes, Surry Hills has lots of cafes, but this is  at the Devonshire Street tunnel end, so it's joined the very short list of good cafes close to Central Station.

Indulgent ... Could this be Sydney's most luxurious toastie?
Indulgent ... Could this be Sydney's most luxurious toastie?

Widjaja previously ran an Indonesian restaurant, Padi, here before the couple decided they wanted to offer fine dining at a reasonable price, with serious coffee.

The cafe's small front room is industrial-looking but with a light  blond-wood fitout. Most tables are in a rear courtyard with an obligatory graffiti wall. The ceiling and  walls are festooned with army camouflage netting, and a vertical garden of herbs and edible flowers. Service is unobtrusive and friendly.

Devon's all-day menu is happily devoid of luncheon meat. It's not all pricey fungus: $10 gets you bruschetta with avocado, Meredith goat's fetta and house-pickled beetroot, or black rice pudding with coconut cream, palm sugar and banana.

Our hungry group arrives at 11am. We order two specials: the ultimate toastie and a Japanese-inspired dish of salmon with a smoked eel croquette, a 63-degree egg and a squirt of Kewpie mayonnaise. The salmon is pink and delicately cooked, blackened at the edges where a sweet soy and mirin marinade has caught, with the smoked eel croquette crunchy and intensely savoury and the egg gloriously translucent.

From the permanent menu, the ''breakfast of champion'' is an elegantly composed dish with fried rounds of morcilla, a golden potato and celeriac gratin, apple puree, one of those 63-degree eggs and chestnuts.

Then there's ''Little lost bread'': French toast with grilled banana, Nutella, rhubarb jam, peanut butter ice-cream and peanut brittle.   It's indulgent but not too sweet, thanks to the tart rhubarb jam and peanut crunch.

The drinks list is excellent. Standard coffees use Alchemy beans, while Five Senses single-origin is used for specialty brews, including cold-drip and Chemex. Our round of lattes is very good, while a cup of Chemex filter coffee is strong and smooth. A detox juice of orange, carrot and celery arrives in a jar (this is Surry Hills, after all). There's a short choice of hard drinks for those dining later in the day, and I mean short: organic beer, cider, and organic red or white by the bottle or glass.

Guillaume at Bennelong is closing. Claude's is closing. Chefs have swapped their posts at Rockpool and Tetsuya's for cafes. Times are not fine for fine dining, but it doesn't  follow that dining out has to be any less of a treat.


Recommended dishes

Breakfast of champion (morcilla, celeriac and potato gratin, 63-degree egg), little lost bread (peanut butter and jam French toast), ultimate toastie (until end of truffle season in August).

Score

Four stars (out of five)

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76 Devonshire Street, Surry Hills, NSW

  • Cuisine - Contemporary
  • Prices - Breakfast $6-$19.50, specials up to $25.
  • Features - Licensed
  • Chef(s) - Noni Widjaja and Derek Puah
  • Opening Hours - Mon-Fri, 6.30am-4.30pm; Sat and Sun, 8am-3.30pm
  • Author - Georgia Waters
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10 comments so far

  • Im sick of all these cafes charging like wounded bulls. Their owners have this churn mentality. Get em in and get em out. I refuse to pay 25 dollars for a slice of toast with a 20 cent egg on top. Cant people just entertain at home instead of feeding these money hungry cafes.

    Commenter
    rippoff
    Location
    Date and time
    August 03, 2013, 1:21PM
  • Ha! So glad I am NOT in sydney to get ripped off left right and center... a $25 egg sandwhich
    get #%$K@d Sydney

    Commenter
    Judy Howieson
    Location
    Los Angles
    Date and time
    August 03, 2013, 3:33PM
    • egg and truffles moron

      Commenter
      grapsta
      Location
      Date and time
      August 08, 2013, 2:23PM
  • Yeah - like I'm gonna pay 25 bucks for a toasted sambo. Still, I expect the place will be chockas with hipsters eager for the experience. As P.T. Barnum said...

    Commenter
    Laurie
    Location
    Date and time
    August 03, 2013, 3:50PM
  • 1. How can a breakfast be luxurious?
    2. What is so 'luxurious' about that breakfast?

    Commenter
    Chris
    Location
    Europe
    Date and time
    August 04, 2013, 9:09AM
  • Lol what's ridiculous about this is not the cafe charging $25 for the egg on toast, but the people going there and paying $25 for an egg on toast.

    Commenter
    Monika
    Location
    sydney
    Date and time
    August 05, 2013, 8:54AM
  • I had one the toasties over the weekend and it was amazing. I love truffles and as the author points out, they are usually a very expensive indulgence. Coffee was great too.

    To all those above commentors that cannot afford $25 (but would happily put their $25 in the pokies in the pubs next door), probably best you keep buying your $3.50 bacon and egg rolls from the deep fried joints around central

    Commenter
    do you get it?
    Location
    Date and time
    August 05, 2013, 10:05AM
  • Well, things must be getting pretty crowded up there on that high horse...

    It's not simply an egg on toast. Clearly the photo shows two eggs. (Which, I would wager are free range, and considerably more than 20 cents each). And, more importantly, the photo also clearly shows some stringy black substance on top of the eggs. That, you ignoramuses, is truffle. The truffle which the reviewer clearly described, yet the lot of you chose to studiously ignore when rushing to your haughty indignation.

    Whoops, I forgot the first rule of internet forums. Leave the trolls under the bridge and walk right over them.

    Commenter
    MCPC
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    August 06, 2013, 10:28AM
  • Best toastie I've ever had!! Even without the truffle it is delicious. Sourdough toasted to perfection, mix of different champions is refreshing compared to the usual white variety and the melted cheese added depth to flavours of shrooms and eggs. Added truffle making it a perfect balance of flavours. It is a huge serving, girls should def order one to share to leave room to try Devon's other scrumptious looking offerings. This is a dish I would expect at a 5 star hotel, so for $25 a pop this is a bargain.

    Commenter
    Juzz
    Location
    Date and time
    August 11, 2013, 3:20PM
  • I've been to Devon cafe, the first time I went I was so blown away that I couldn't get the taste and the food out of my head for days. I've been since and love it every time. Everyone talks about the price on this comment blog. $25 is nothing unless you're cheap. Considering the ingredients they use it's extremely affordable and the ultimate toastie she is talking about I have eaten - it is massive and cannot be finished by one person.

    Commenter
    Foodie2013
    Date and time
    October 03, 2013, 8:17PM

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