2 Knox St Double Bay, NSW 2028
|Opening hours||Mon-Sat 7am-late, Sun 8am-late|
|Prices||Moderate (mains $20-$40)|
|Phone||02 9362 1881|
We just don't have enough great people-watching cafes in Sydney. The great lure of a trip to Europe is not the Eiffel Tower or the Colosseum; it's the people-watching from an al fresco cafe table, preferably accompanied by a spritz.
So a big welcome back to The Cosmopolitan, veteran Double Bay landmark and pioneer of Sydney's cafe culture.
Nipped, tucked and cosmetically enhanced, it's looking ready for anything. Let's just say I haven't seen a massive ice bucket piled high with bottles of Moet and 500-gram tins of caviar next to the espresso machine for, like, ever.
New owners John Duncan and Anthony Prior (The Winery, Manly Wine) have maximised The Cosmo's people-watching potential, installing comfortable banquettes and cushy chairs, and lining the walls with champagne and art.
It's light, bright and inviting by day, and transforms into a bar at night, with Mediterranean dinners in the moody lounge to the rear. All the various D-Bay tribes seem to be embracing it, from youngies in activewear to oldies in knitwear.
The business community gathers over $2 oysters after work, and kids eat free from 5pm to 7pm. Men hobnob in groups over coffee, identical in white linen shorts and boat shoes. A toddler scrabbles in his mother's bag for what – a computer game? No, an actual book, hallelujah. I've invited a girlfriend to lunch, who is striking looking, fashionably dressed and knows half the people in the street – perfect casting.
The lunch menu nods to the past with a truffled chicken club sandwich and fries ($24) and the Double Bay tradition of schnitzel, or rather, "crumbed, flattened veal cutlet with waldorf slaw" ($32). But there's plenty from here and now, with a smoked salmon and rye tartine ($22) that has a bet each way on creme fraiche as well as avocado.
A Supergreen Mediterranean bowl ($22) is rich and filling, with crunchy broad bean falafel, pickled cucumber and edamame crowning a likeable quinoa salad.
You can push the boat out for breakfast with a luxe lobster benedict ($30), although there are more orders for the colourful fruit platters with yoghurt and honeycomb ($17), or wafts of golden, buttery curds of scrambled egg with sourdough toast and Pepe Saya butter ($12).
A Royale breakfast bun ($18) is filled with swiss cheese, double bacon, iceberg lettuce, tomato, barbecue sauce and aioli; the perfect fried egg peeping out as if on an Anya Hindmarch clutch.
Mecca's Moonwalker blend (50/50 Brazilian/Colombian beans) has good body and lingering notes of chocolate-and-nuts, and organic O by Ovvio teas taste fresh and bright.
Can-do staff offer soy, almond, macadamia, oat and coconut milk in place of dairy.
Champagne, of course. Moet et Chandon's Brut Imperial ($24 a glass) is crisp and tart, and there are spritzes for days, breakfast margaritas, a seriously good wine list and rosé by the 1.5 litre.
My girlfriend says her parents used to bring her here as a treat when she was five years old. A few decades later, it's still a treat.
Loving The people-watching (it's our Rodeo Drive).
Not getting Why Double Bay people don't like to share tables.
Vegan factor Enough to keep you going, and almost every dish can be veganised.
Overheard "Let's start at 30 grand and go from there".
Caffe latte $4.50