23-29 Addison Rd Marrickville, NSW 2204
|Opening hours||Mon-Sun 7am-4pm|
|Features||Cheap and cheerful, Family friendly|
|Prices||Cheap (mains under $20)|
Nothing is too much trouble at Matinee. A cheery "good morning" greets everyone through the door, tables are pushed together without asking, high chairs are produced, sparkling water is poured and refilled, spilt milk is mopped up and any attempts to help are waved away.
It's so good we could be in, well, Melbourne. I don't want to sound mean-spirited here, but for a long time service in Sydney has lagged behind its southern frenemy. Menus proffered as if you had asked for a hand-written copy of the Bible, and water top-ups treated as if the staff had to pump it from the well out the back.
But not at Matinee. It could be that they are fresh out of the box, having only opened at the beginning of March, but it feels genuine. Perhaps it's the old-fashioned styling of the cafe that encourages the old-fashioned service.
The beautiful curved counter and red velvet-roped entrance could be straight out of an art deco cinema. The ball lights and Formica tables conjure up visions of an old-school Greek milk bar. Hell, there are even hooks for your bags under the counter!
We're here for breakfast, with a toddler in tow. After studying the menu the night before (if you Google Matinee cafe, just for fun click on the first link – matineecafe.net – to see the family photo and alarming food offerings of a cafe in Texas), husband goes straight for the pork hash.
It arrives with two pillows of perfectly poached eggs on top. Below lies a jumble of chunks of pork shoulder with Parmesan cheese, sauteed cabbage, capsicum and potato. It's a lovely combination of flavours but the hero here is the coffee-rubbed pork.
The chilli kick is very mild but the coffee and fennel flavours are beautiful and the pork is wonderfully succulent. Condiment obsessed husband can't stay away from the chilli sauce on offer but, while the sauce is good, the hash's flavours are best served by leaving the cap on.
For me it's a toss up between the Persian rice kedgeree and the bircher muesli with apple, pear and rhubarb topped with puffed rice. The rice wins, purely because I watched Bachelor in Paradise the night before and any dish with rose petals in it is a winner.
Served with two poached eggs and creamy goat's feta, it's delicious, but the unexpected star is the juicy currants. They are enormous and sweet, too good to share with a toddler eyeing them off. (She gets toast and jam, and when that's delivered to the table, the waitress casually mentioned she had the bread lightly toasted so it wouldn't be too difficult to eat. What mad sorcery is this!)
On the drinks side, I'm directed to the Yunnan Red, assured it's the closest I'll get in flavour to an English Breakfast tea. It's slightly less robust than my trusty EBT, but I'd order it again in a heartbeat.
Husband plumps for his usual latte. The Matinee brew is a rich, malty coffee and is swiftly down the hatch and a second ordered. This is good enough to give outstanding local roaster Coffee Alchemy, just across the road, a run for their money.
Main attractions: The service is sublime, the fit-out retrotastic and the food superb.
Must-try: The pork hash and any dish served with the sticky-soft bread by, pun alert, Thoroughbread.
Insta-worthy dish: No particular dish, just anything with the cafe's brilliant blue and brown colour scheme in the background.
Coffee: Roasted by Collective Roasting Solutions, $4-$5.
Tea: Tea Craft, $4
In the neighbourhood
Coffee Alchemy, 24 Addison Road, Marrickville
Hidden in plain sight in daggy brown brown building, Coffee Alchemy has long been the brew of choice for coffee lovers. The corner shop serves nothing but coffee, but it is award-winning stuff, so buy it by the cup or take a bag of beans, such as Hairy Chest or Paracelsus Punch, home with you.
Vic on the Park, 2 Addison Road, Marrickville
This once-rugged corner pub is on a watching list, having been snapped up by pub tsar Justin Hemmes in October last year. It remains to be seen what kind of makeover he'll give it, but fingers crossed the basketball court stays, as do the occasional rowdy backyard gigs.
Cow and the Moon, 181 Enmore Road, Enmore
Long a local favourite, this gelateria took off when it won the Gelato World Tour title in Italy in 2014 for its almond affogato flavour. The family-run corner shop was soon beseiged by crowds, with lines stretching down the block. The crowds have since calmed down a little, but the good news is that the gelato is still perfection, and, in my humble opinion, the best in Sydney.
Reverse Garbage, 8/142 Addison Road, Marrickville
Ever wondered if you need some large glittery signage in your life? Or a mega roll of garden twine? Chances are, if you have thought about it, Reverse Garbage has it. Tucked at the back of the Addison Road Community Centre, the environmental co-op collects tonnes of nic-nacs, offcuts, arts and craft materials and old stage props and gives them a new home in the shed. Hot ticket items at the moment include wooden skewers (10,000 for $30) and an unhemmed Ken Done scarf panel.