The Fern

4 Pitt Street, Redfern, NSW

Catherine Keenan

Egg Rancheros.
Photo: Fiona Morris

If you looked at Sydney from space you'd see the population undulating up and down in a giant Mexican wave. At least, that's what it feels like. Sydney used to be all ragu this and fritti that; suddenly we're wolfing down empanadas and tacos al pastor.

We've gone Latino, hombres. Even, it would seem, at breakfast.

Chef Ariel Coplan, who worked her way from Scotland to New York to Felix in the city, has settled in nicely to this cafe-cum-small bar, which opened in March in an old terrace at the quiet end of Pitt Street, in Redfern.

The large front courtyard is empty and forlorn on a winter's morning, giving no hint of the sparky warmth inside - all dance beats at 10am, mismatched chairs, poster art on the walls and cosy booths.

The bar and stools give it a diner vibe, while details such as the packing cartons for booze against one wall give a down-home twist.

A morning touch is added by the communal table scattered with newspapers. The place isn't packed but it hums along nicely.

The menu puts the best of Latino food through the Sydney filter: eggs rancheros, a mountain of chorizo, fried eggs, beans and avocado nestled in a tortilla striped black from the grill; or a plate-size corn fritter, topped with pulled pork - the best thing out of Latin America after the tango - avocado salsa, goat's cheese and rocket.

The fritter is a little underdone but an otherwise successful dish that seems to embody Sydney-meets-South America. You bring the pork; we've got the rocket. To have it served by a waiter with a pencil moustache is a bonus.

There's more in the Latino-ish vein. A chorizo sandwich and pork and beans on toast with a fried egg, the latter kicking off the menu under the title ''hangover cure'' but it's all perfect food for the morning after.

The music seems to offer the option of carrying on. We're feeling perky and wholesome but part of me feels I should have a tequila headache, at least.

Not everything comes from down Mexico way and there are some traditionally Sydney brekky options: BLT, eggs any way, though it's not often you get to team them with smoked pork belly.

Our kids love the fluffy pancakes in an oozing river of butterscotch sauce, slivers of pear swiftly cast aside. We order one serve for the two of them and appreciate it being served divided on two plates.

The kids make friends with a girl at another table and nobody seems to mind their games. We sit back and enjoy the Gravity coffee, which is as robust as you'd expect when you're serving it to people who might start their day with Tabasco sauce.

The same menu easily takes you into lunch and options include the Fern burger - double beef, bacon, cheese and fries - and soup of the day for the abstemious.

The Fern is now open for dinner Thursday to Saturday with a small menu of tasting-plate dishes that stroll with Sydney confidence through a range of cuisines. There's gnocchi, nettle, globe artichoke; or perhaps kingfish sashimi, lime, ginger, watermelon.

We'd certainly come back to try them. This end of Redfern has long been lacking a relaxed, grown-up place for drinks and something to eat. And since you're asking, yes, they do have a tequila list.

THE FERN

4 Pitt Street, Redfern

8399 0070

Tue, Wed 8am-3pm; Sun 9am-3pm; Thur-Sat 8am-3pm, 6pm-10pm.

Menu

Sydney eclectic, with a Latin twist at brekky

Value

Good. Brunch $7-$17.50; dinner tasting plates $13-$18

Recommended dishes

Eggs rancheros

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4 Pitt Street, Redfern, NSW

  • (02) 8399 0070
  • Cuisine - Modern Australian
  • Prices - About $40 for two at breakfast, About $40 for two at breakfast
  • Opening Hours - Breakfast and lunch Tue-Sun; Dinner Thu-Sat
  • Author - Catherine Keenan
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