Pymble on the North Shore is not quite where you expect a Surry Hills-esque cafe establishment to open up.
But staying true to the essence of hipster cafes, Maslow’s Sydney has taken up residence in an old garage just off the Pymble Railway Station line, en route to Pymble Ladies College. My Sister lives a couple of roads down and had excitedly WhatsApped me one morning with photos of the outside when she and her hubby were stuck in traffic, and so I decided I had to check it out.
Maslow’s Sydney is modestly-sized with plenty of natural lighting and decked out with little pieces of green foliage in tea candle holders both on your table and suspended from the ceiling like bare light bulbs. It really is quite adorable.
The menu is also quite modest but impressive. Technique is the first thing that screams out at me when I read the menu. And how could there not be when what jumps out at me is the 62 degree egg? There are truly few things finer in life than a perfectly poached egg with a runny, oozy yolk. The menu here has all-day breakfast… toast soldiers for afternoon tea, anyone? 😉
I asked the waitress for the inspiration behind the menu and she described it as “Modern Australian”, of course, and said that the chef had previously worked in the kitchens of Anana’s Brasserie and Cafe Sydney. My next question was what she would recommend from the menu, and while she said her favourite was the tongue-in-cheek Condoleezza Rice, she said the Mr Pig was the most popular. A Mr Pig for me it was then. My Sister when for a Foraged, as she loves a good mushroom risotto.
I ordered my regular skinny latte ($3.50). They have the popular Seven Seeds coffee here, and even though my regular city haunt uses the same beans, it’s funny how the coffee can still taste different. It was smooth and quite light.
The Sister had a cold-pressed juice by Prodjuice ($4) with pineapple, lemon and lemongrass. It was not half as sweet as I imagined. I’ve had a lot of pineapple juice growing up through primary school for choir reasons (pineapple juice sweetens your vocal chords – and as proof, we were runners up in the NSW finals!), and this was unlike anything I’ve ever had. Incredibly refreshing, a little herbal from the lemongrass but without the bite, and just a nicely mellow flavour.
I was so happy I had ordered the Mr Pig when it arrived. For $10, this baby is pretty impressive.
I had been watching the chef put the burger together and I noticed he used Kewpie Mayonnaise and the hot sauce you get at Vietnamese stores to add to pho. An unusual combination and I was doubting the combination of flavours, but it was mind-blowingly good. The chilli sauce served to cut through the richness of the pork belly, which had been tenderly braised with a myriad of spices so heavenly yet I could not identify them. I also particularly enjoyed how the brioche was not overly-buttery as I’ve had at other places, as it would have made the cute little burger too rich with the wholesome pork belly.
My sister’s Foraged ($16) was really something to look at. Farro risotto, wild mushrooms, tarragon and creme fraiche.
It’s a small serving, but the combination of grains and rice in the risotto are so complex and different that you really eat it in quite small bites, as opposed to shovelling a rich risotto down in mouthfuls. It tasted incredibly healthy, yet still nicely creamy with the small addition of creme fraiche on top which you could swirl through.
This dish is spring on a plate.
We had a light herbal tea ($4.50) that Maslow’s source from Kettle Town, a locally produced and boxed tea in Rosebery, Australia. While we chatted over the remnants of our brunch, I was fascinated by the sweets menu which had a “nice cake” and a “naughty cake”, and asked our waitress about it. She explained that their “naughty cake” is a decadent affair usually involving lashings of chocolate, while their “nice cake” is a lighter, slightly healthier option. Unfortunately, they hadn’t had the time to make a “naughty cake” that morning (too busy to be naughty :P) and so only had their “nice cake”, which was beetroot. The Sister was a bit iffy about beetroot, but when I reminded her of the Unicorn Beetroot Cake I’ve made, she decided she would give it a go.
The “nice” beetroot cake ($5) arrived with a spiced cream piped on top. It certainly wasn’t the colour I was expecting, and I dug in curiously with a fork. The texture was light, but the flavour was almost caramel-like, with spices like cloves and cinnamon coming through. The beetroot was there, but quite subtle in the back and the cake was ridiculously addictive with the aerated spiced cream. It was a little finicky eating the cake with forks on a paper napkin, but we dispensed with the forks in the end and polished it off simply by picking it up with our hands.
Our appetites satisfied, The Sister generously settled the bill while we waited outside, and she excitedly emerged with a bottle of Cherrytree Cola ($4) that the place also sells and passed it around for a taste.
Lighter in flavour and sugar than a regular coke, it also didn’t have the characteristic sickly hit that I find Dr Pepper has. It’s really quite nice when cafes stock boutique juices, teas and soft drinks that you wouldn’t normally find at the supermarket; because why would you pay more money simply for having an everyday brand of beverage in the luxury of a cafe?
Overall, a cute, quirky and really charming cafe with a well-thought-out menu and a wonderful place to visit when the weather’s being generous. The opening hours are a little unpredictable though, as they state on their Facebook page that they are open until 4.00pm, but then The Sister has went past on a number of afternoons and they were already closing by 2pm, saying that they had “run out” of food. While it’s certainly a good sign that they are running out, I do think that there is a lot of profit to be made considering its placement next to the private ladies college with the after-school run…..
…just an idea 😉 But then again, do I really want this place to get overly crowded and busy? I quite like that it’s a well-kept local secret at the moment 🙂