New life: The revamp meant removing 40 years of welding grime. Photo: Edwina Pickles
At first glance, Two Chaps would probably be filed as "hipster cafe". There are beards, artisan breads, handmade house teas, mismatched furniture, bicycles on the wall, small blackboard menus and exposed beams and bricks in a renovated warehousey space.
It's located in a slightly industrial part of Marrickville, it has a quirky name and coffee is a really big deal.
But so is chai. Sticky Chai, to be exact. A raw honey-soaked chai made by hand in the large open kitchen adapted by co-owners Piero Pignatti Morano and Richie Maxfield from a former welding workshop.
Mushroom, haloumi, egg and roast beetroot toastie. Photo: Edwina Pickles
The pair spent six months gutting the space, scraping away 40 years of welding grime before fixing the roof, walls and floor and building the kitchen. They also roast their Blind Man Coffee here, along with creating a small but finely tuned array of toasted sandwiches, salads, cereals, biscuits and pressed juices.
We are perched on wooden bench seating beneath wooden planter boxes sprouting herbs. The small girl at the table has dragged over all three of the mismatched, slightly battered but highly cute children's chairs available, for a game of multiple seats.
The bench is not cushy comfortable per se but Two Chaps does offer a couch in its small seating area beside the garage door entrance if you want to lie back and appreciate their hard work, aesthetically and food and drink wise.
Yellow carrot and pearl barley salad with zucchini, feta and pesto. Photo: Edwina Pickles
For, if you can say one thing about so-called hipster cafes, the coffee, tea and victuals are made with painstaking care. Our flat whites, served in beautiful eggshell-blue Mud Australia porcelain, are strong, creamy kicks of goodness.
The organic banana, honey and ricotta toast (using house-made bread, available to buy) is a rich, silky and excellently chewy breakfast concoction. Equally top-notch is the organic mushroom, haloumi, egg and roast beetroot toastie.
It spills lovely runny egg across the plate to merge with the deep purple beetroot smears – all swiped up with still-warm bread and shared between us.
Service is attentive, possibly because there is really only room for about 20 people to sit down. But also because Morano, Maxfield and staff know a lot about the menu items and the tea, coffee, raw honey and various kinds of bread (ciabatta, durum semolina) they sell.
The six or so breakfast and lunch dishes on the extremely seasonal menu change each day. There are plans, too, for occasional dinner nights at the long metal-fronted bar facing the kitchen.
The industrial space beyond the racks of produce is where the coffee and tea is roasted or soaked. Morano and Maxfield also work on their bicycles and motorbikes out back in spare hours, which makes Two Chaps feel like a visit to one of the warehouse studios artists and friends still occupy in Marrickville and surrounds.
For such a raw, home-spun, hard-surfaced sort of spot, this workshop/cafe has an entirely calm vibe. Passers-by stop to look in, many bringing their dogs in for a pat from customers as they order takeaway coffees and buy just-baked bread and dark chocolate and almond biscotti.
We order another round of aromatic coffees as planes roar overhead, cars pass by inches from the front entrance and the rain falls on a view merging industrial with inner-west suburbia.
Hipster schmipster. Two Chaps is a winner.
THE PICKS MUSHROOM, HALOUMI, EGG AND ROAST BEETROOT RELISH TOASTIE
THE COFFEE BLIND MAN'S COFFEE
THE LOOK HOMEY INDUSTRIAL
THE SERVICE ATTENTIVE AND INFORMED
- Cuisine - Modern Australian
- Prices - VERY GOOD. BREAKFAST, $3-$8.50
- Features - Family friendly
- Owners - Piero Pignatti Morano, Richie Maxfield
- Opening Hours - Mon-Fri, 7am-3pm, Sun, 8am-2pm
- Author - Lenny Ann Low