20 Cooper St Redfern, NSW 2016
|Opening hours||Mon-Fri 7am-3pm; Sat & Sun 8am-2pm|
At university, my friend Steph ate a chips-and-gravy sandwich every week for lunch for three years. It was an exquisite joy between acting classes filled with trust falls, Ophelia speeches and taxing mock auditions for Home and Away.
To this day she'd open a chip packet, empty it onto white bread and smother it all with flour-thickened meat juices if life required it.
Sandwiches are a comfort food whatever way you make them. Whether it's Vegemite and cheese wrapped in greaseproof paper from the school canteen or a platter of triangular ham, tomato and egg-mayonnaise versions at a country wake, bread around a filling is a reassuring fill-you-up staple ripe for personal interpretation.
On a cold and foggy morning at Good Ways Deli's corner shop in Redfern, a small industry of passionately tailored sandwich-making is under way.
Co-owner Tom Pye is at the till explaining the cafe's six sandwiches (five regulars and one daily special), the only food on the green felt wall menu apart from a house-made granola featuring tahini, almonds, pepitas, sesame and coconut yoghurt.
There's also a cabinet of house-baked sweet treats, including soft, melty wattleseed brownies and golden chewy Anzac biscuits along with Vegemite scrolls, rhubarb jam-filled lamingtons and, today's special, slabs of bread and butter pudding.
But, first the sangas. Pye recommends the breakfast sandwich, a warm mix of egg, onion jam, rocket and fermented potato with sweet, tangy "hot butter" (a mixture featuring white soy, onion and lemon) served on house-baked wattleseed ciabatta bread. Encased in a foil-lined paper packet that keeps the heat and ingredients in, it's properly delectable.
So is the salad sandwich, a fat fresh hillock of grated beetroot, carrot, sprouts and rocket with mushroom pate and Swiss cheese.
The fabbo kangaroo mortadella sandwich, crunchy and lush with layers of onion, rocket and peppery luncheon meat from Whole Beast Butchery in Marrickville is washed down nicely with a Milo thickshake.
A recent menu rejig means the breakfast sandwich is now boiled egg, cheddar, butter lettuce and onion jam, while the mortadella sanga has become the deli sandwich to incorporate kangaroo saucisson, a slow-aged, air-dried sausage, and an excellent word to say loudly.
Co-owner and chef Jordan McKenzie, who has worked with Small Talk, Cornersmith and Smoking Gun Bagels, says Good Ways' Australiana-themed components evolved after much long, hard thought and a lot of sandwich-making.
"On my days off I always want to go to a cafe or restaurant and just get something simple,' he says.
"Some good food, where there's good culture, the staff's obviously happy and the produce is sustainably sourced. It doesn't have to be anything too different or fancy, just good, honest food. I think it's pretty hard to come by, so I wanted to do that."
Good Ways also features native ingredients, from wattleseed in the ciabatta to a myrtle-ade soda. Above the front door is a written recognition that the deli is on unceded Gadigal country.
"Tom and I are not indigenous and we want to be clear about that," McKenzie says. "We have the best of intentions, but it's getting hard to negotiate that. It's not really our story to tell, we want to be conscious of that, but, if you're going to explore what it is to be Australian, and how to do Australiana, you can't ignore our First Peoples. We're still working out how to do that but it's very important to us."
Five weeks after opening, restrictions have temporarily removed seating at the corrugated green Colourbond front counter, but not the deli's customers.
Spaced patiently outside they're greeted individually by Pye who ferries takeaway Coffee Supreme brews with a cheer no mask can hide.
Future plans include an online store selling the deli's pickles, apple and rhubarb jam and fermented hot sauce, all available in-store along with Coffee Supreme beans, Sungold Jersey milk, Highland Fresh free-range eggs and Maffra cheese. T-shirts and tote bags in Good Ways' forest green hue are also for sale.
No news on a chips and gravy sandwich looming on the menu but you can always make your own.
Good Ways Deli
Main attraction: Splendid Australiana-inspired sandwiches, baked goods and drinks including kangaroo mortadella sangas, rhubarb jam-filled lamingtons and lemon myrtle soda.
Must-try dish: The Deli Sandwich with kangaroo mortadella and saucisson.
Insta-worthy dish: A full-to-bursting salad sandwich piled with beetroot, carrot, sprouts, mushroom paté, mayo and Maffra cheddar.
Drinks: Coffee, hot chocolate, chai $4-$5; house soda, house thick shake $7