The weekend coffee queue ... Grind Espresso in Cronulla.
The weekend coffee queue ... Grind Espresso in Cronulla. Photo: Fiona Morris

Scott Bolles

Step aside Surry Hills, there's a new contender in the Sydney food stakes and it is The Shire. Cronulla to be precise, which is one of Sydney's hottest emerging food markets.

The Old Library has already made a splash, and the suburb has been bubbling along nicely on the cafe front with stalwarts such as Grind. Now modern Asian has rolled in with the opening of Alphabet St, at 5/8 Kingsway.

Restaurateur Joe Natale operated Darlinghurst's Asian star Rambutan before the woes of Oxford Street forced him out. "There's lots of Western-style Thai in Cronulla, but we're the first authentic Thai and the feedback from locals has been great," says Natale.

The Old Library restaurant in Cronulla.
The Old Library restaurant in Cronulla. Photo: Supplied

"My partner, Oriana De Luca, is from the beaches down near Wollongong. We were looking for a sea change. The day before we were heading down there Oriana had a dream about Cronulla, so we stopped off and found this place for rent," he says.

Rambutan chef Tiw Rakarin has joined the trek south, the menu mixing old school Thai with dishes of a wider brief such as Peking duck with rosemary pancakes, leek and honey hoisin.