It’s a little funny how when I was working as a volunteer, I never really thought twice about getting lunch out. Working in the city, you’re surrounded by so many options and flavours that it actually becomes painstakingly difficult to choose; in my old office, we would hold discussions every day around 11am and noon asking others what they would be having for lunch to get some inspiration for our own. But working as a volunteer – hey no money, but still…
And now that I’m thankfully back in paid employment, I find I’m actually stingier with my money! More likely because now I have rent and bills to pay, but now every Sunday is spent cooking a fortnight’s worth of healthy muffins for morning tea and four lunches. One each for Monday through to Thursday…and Friday being my cheat day. To go out and splurge a little! So far I’ve just been going to Hunter Connection because of its easy access and familiarity, but I was browsing Instagram one quiet morning at work and happened upon a photo a fellow blogger had taken of his drool-worthy breakfast at a place not far from me. At 1.30pm – my desk tidied – phone on away – I gathered my things and with great anticipation headed down the street to Pavel & Co.
Pavel & Co is kind of a cafe…that deals exclusively with the art of slow-roasted meats. 12 hour beef brisket, crispy pork belly, shoulder of lamb – if all of those are up your alley, this is your kind of place. The place is owned by the folks behind Pony Dining Group; a restaurant chain I’ve been too tentative to try due to their prices (maybe for my next special occasion), but I was thrilled to see that this place was roughly within my $10 lunch budget. Original paninis will set you back by $9, while something a bit more artisan will be $11. There’s also lunch boxes for $14 that come with different roast vegetables and brown rice if you’re not in the mood for a panini roll, or salads for those that somehow found their way into this place.
There’s seating inside, but from the stack of takeaway boxes beside the counter you can see that they are definitely well-equipped to deal with the lunchtime city-worker frenzy.
I’ve visited Pavel & Co three times thus far. The first time I went for the Pork Krakel ($11): pork belly, spring onion, daikon, carrot, Spanish onion, flat parsley, apple fennel compote, and BBQ glaze.
I took it out to my favourite lunch spot, on the steps of the GPO in Martin Place. A good amount of tender and flavoursome pork belly – deliciously sticky and sweet and savoury at the same time. There was a good amount of crunch from the crusty panini and of course the crackling from the pork had just the right amount of shatter. I was originally afraid I wouldn’t be able to finish the whole roll as I haven’t had bread in a while, but my fears were unfounded and I gobbled the whole thing up. Yum.
I was back the next week. I had been agonising over the menu at work before that, tossing up between the lamb or the beef. Ultimately I went for the 12 Hour Brisket ($11): Brisket, daikon, carrot, Spanish onion, pineapple, flat parsley, wholegrain mustard, BBQ glaze.
Now I thought I had gotten a good deal with the $11 Pork Krakel last week….. but it was nothing compared to this monster:
If you want bang for your buck, this 12 hour brisket will satisfy you. Full of tender, shredded brisket, it’s also incredibly saucy and will leave a sticky mess over your lips and fingers 😉 You get a lovely burst of tropical sweetness with the pineapple, and then a subtle hit of warm heat from the pop of wholegrain mustard seeds. If love was a sandwich, this was the one that stole my heart. All my previous lovers pale in their insignificance.
My third go at Pavel, I was showing a mate the place and this time elected to try the Cheeseburger ($13): 160g Blackmore Wagyu Beef, Spanish onion, pickles, ketchup, American mustard, brioche bun.
I thought this burger would have to be pretty spectacular as it’s on the regular menu at Pony’s, but I probably a little let down after their amazing paninis. While it was a classic cheeseburger in all respects with all the elements, I didn’t really “connect” with my burger and find it mind-blowing. Despite the patty being made of Blackmore Wagyu, it was almost too-charred and under-seasoned for me. It was a good medium-rare though.
Pavel & Co also stock quite a gourmet ginger beer. I usually go for Bundaberg myself, but the Emma & Tom’s ginger beer ($4) was nicely refreshing and quite ginger-y.
I’m actually thinking of going back today. Oh what to choose, what to choooose? Maybe you will see me there 😉
Pavel & Co
1/222 Kent Street
Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9146 0716