Sydney's best hangover cure? Thai style fried eggs with jasmine rice, nam jim sauce and pork belly. Photo: Fiona Morris
The warehouses and factories of Camperdown's light-industrial past are rapidly being overtaken by residential developments. Apartment complexes are as much a part of the housing mix as old terraces and workers' cottages, and population growth has triggered the arrival of new places at which residents can eat.
Locals no longer have to venture to Newtown for a decent coffee and plate of eggs. This small cafe has nabbed a spot in the old Westons biscuit factory, tucked away in a pedestrian thoroughfare in the middle of the development. If you weren't aware of its existence, it would be easy to miss, but clearly the word is out. The place is packed and we're lucky to get a table.
Deep-fried eggs come Thai-style and served with rice, salad and a spicy nam jim chilli sauce. This year's Good Food Guide reviewers rated it as Sydney's best hangover cure, and it's easy to see why.
Inside, floor-to-ceiling shelves hold cookbooks and large jars of spices. It's probably design-by-practicality given the small space, but it adds a homely, almost ramshackle touch. Breakfast and lunch items are listed on a large blackboard behind the counter. There are fresh juices, milkshakes and the coffee is from Golden Cobra.
Homely ... Runcible Spoon in Camperdown.
An old biscuit roller hints at the building's past, but Wagon Wheels are not produced here any more. Instead, Runcible Spoon offers all manner of twists and turns on classic breakfast fare. Deep-fried eggs come Thai-style and served with rice, salad and a spicy nam jim chilli sauce. This year's Good Food Guide reviewers rated it as Sydney's best hangover cure, and it's easy to see why. The eggs are puffed up and golden, but somehow the yolks stay runny. Every mouthful packs a flavoursome punch, and my mouth tingles from the heat of the chilli. It is at once a seriously unattractive and terribly addictive dish, and can be ordered with a piece of pork belly.
A dish of mushrooms with Roquefort sauce is super-rich and for serious blue-cheese lovers only. A piece of bread is topped with a generous serving of fried mushrooms and spinach, in turn topped with a buttery blue-cheese sauce and caramelised onion. The cheese sauce permeates everything; a few mouthfuls in and it's hard to detect the mushroom flavour. It still gets polished off, but could do with a lighter, fresher element.
The classic breakfast fry-up of bacon and eggs is spruced up with a potato roesti and oven-roasted tomatoes. The Berrima Ridge eggs are nicely poached and the roesti is thick and tasty, with a good crust on the outside yet fluffy on the inside.
A sweet mint frappe gets the table talking as we try to guess the ingredients. Mint, of course; maybe strawberries; and something we can't quite put a finger on, which turns out to be lychees when we ask.
Wandering around Camperdown afterwards, it's clear the transformation is not complete, with more big developments under way. Change can be challenging, but Runcible Spoon proves there's usually an upside.
Thai-style fried eggs, crisp potato roesti with slow-roasted tomatoes, poached eggs and bacon, fresh juice, coffee.
3.5 stars (out of five)
- 02 9519 2727
- Prices - Breakfast $9-$18, lunch $12.50- $19.50, coffee $3-$4.50, fresh juices $5.50.
- Opening Hours - Mon-Fri, 6.30am-4pm; Sat-Sun, 7am-3pm.
- Author - Sarah McInerney