412 W Botany St Rockdale, NSW 2216
|Opening hours||Mon-Fri 5am-3pm; Sat 7am-2pm|
|Prices||Cheap (mains under $20)|
Lockdown might have been the smartest time to open a hole-in-the-wall sandwich emporium like Kosta's. Takeaway only, check. Range of enticing "VIP" sarnies filled with luscious ingredients, check. Proximity to a Bunnings click-and-collect for unlimited wall-plug, flange bolt and guttering brackets pick-up, check.Who needs a sit-in restaurant with five plated courses when everyone's QR Code and face mask professionals looking for travel-friendly foodstuffs with panache.
Kosta's opened four months ago and its bright blue-and-white facade stands out at the front of a smash repairs workshop in Rockdale's semi-suburban industrial zone.
It's a no-frills spot with customers queuing metres from pelting traffic, squealing angle grinders and the kind of heat only white concrete can radiate in full sun on a hot day. But, people are arriving in droves today and all are greeted like old friends at the till.
For a takeaway outlet housed inside a panel beaters, Kosta's hospitality is magical. It's not a short wait for our order, and the noise levels mean close-to shouting conversation when you order, but genial staff are speedy, chatty and working like billy-o to fill a steady stream of walk-up and online orders.
Kosta's menu was created by former Cornersmith chef Cameron Harris and Delicious magazine recipe writer Helena Moursellas. It offers a Greek-flavoured range of breakfast rolls, burgers, muffins and croissants and, the main focus, eight lunchtime sandwiches, on panini, sourdough, olive oil buns and schiacciata from Kirrawee bakery Thoroughbread.
Schiacciata, which means squashed in Italian, is a Tuscan focaccia, crispy and golden, and here it's wrapped around three sandwiches: salad, poached chicken and tuna salad.
The latter is described on Kosta's Instagram as "No tuna and brown rice B.S up in here. Kosta's tuna melt with bernaise + umami", a writing style that epitomises Kosta's vibe in general.
My nine-year-old lunchtime associate is astonished to read Kosta's website welcome, which begins with "Yassas ya bloody malaka!" in 50-point-size lettering. It goes on to declare "This isn't no bloody mobile fone Instabook prety prety hashtag bisiness. My sandwhiches are the best … No prety pink flowers and vedggie bowl bullshit."
It's right. We order the Super Deli panini, with turkey ham, sopressa, peppers, eggplant, spinach, graviera, fennel butter, lettuce, and salsa verde and it's a no-holds-barred feast of cured meats and marinated vegetables on bloody good bread.
It's the same for the poached chicken sandwich, a bona fide banquet of melty chicken, avocado, slaw, chives, mayonaise and salsa verde on thick, glossy schiacciata slabs.
They're out of the schnitty sandwich, filled with panko-crumbed chicken, lettuce and cheese on an olive oil bun, but all disappointment fades when we spot the fridge. Cartons of Nippy's strawberry milk are spotted and my associate forgives Kosta's strong language after sipping hard-to-find, best of all pink drinks.
I'm immersed in a fresh watermelon juice, its straw puncturing a slice of feta resting on the lid, and the promise of a fruit-filled lamington and baked cheesecake slice from Tuga pastries in Clovelly. A strong, fruity coffee hails from Veneziano Roasters.
If I had more money I'd spend it on Kosta's house-made range of pickled carrot, fennel and kimchi, delectable-looking on the shelves beyond. But we need to go and eat lunch in the car like everyone else frequenting this bonza bewdy food joint. In Kosta's own words, get it into ya.
Main attraction: Fat, beautifully layered sandwiches with luscious Greek-inspired fillings on naturally fermented artisan breads.
Must-try dish: The poached chicken sandwich, encased in thick slabs of schiacciata and spilling tender chicken, avocado, slaw, chives, mayonaise and salsa verde.
Insta-worthy dish: The Super Deli panini, as long as your arm, mixing lip-smacking deli meats, marinated peppers and eggplant, spinach, Greek cheese and fennel butter. Could take an hour to finish.