You’d be forgiven for thinking that Something for Jess has been a fixture in Chippendale for much longer than the few months it’s been open.
The casual vibe, attentive service and creative flavour combinations tick along effortlessly – inviting you to stay and have a relaxed meal or feel free to rush off, take-away sandwich and coffee in hand, as the ancient cash register tallies up your total.
The salvaged furniture, chalkboard menus and mismatched crockery scream hipster, but are in reality a simple demonstration of the values and approach of owner Philip and his partner, the cafe’s namesake, Jess.
Chairs, tables and even decorations have been found on the side of the road, plates and glasses picked up from various opp-shops and Jess’s artwork adorns the walls providing splashes bright splashes of colour every way you turn.
After years on the Sydney market-stall circuit, Philip’s approach is solid with ingredients sourced from local producers, and the weekly menu driven by what comes in from his mother-in-law’s farm just outside of Sydney.
The main menu and affogato are updated weekly, the sandwiches, juice of the day and various cakes change daily. It keeps everyone on their toes including the local lunch crowd.
I had heard whispers about this quaint little former florist shop on Twitter and Instagram but it was an email from Lau saying “hey, weren’t you looking for mushrooms?” that sealed the deal for a Sunday brunch stop.
Before even taking a seat at one of the larger shared tables I checked to be sure,”you do still have the mushrooms, right?”. Only two serves remained so I immediately claimed one and we settled in to decide on our second dish.
Now you may be wondering “why the urgency about mushrooms?”, well I’m working with Australian Mushroom Growers as part of their Mushroom Mania winter campaign and mushrooms on the menu was a perfect excuse to try out a new cafe!
A paper left behind by a past customer, a pot of Tea Craft Silver Jasmine Green Tea and a Beetroot, Pear and Pineapple juice of the day started us off.
When the meals promptly arrived they were a cacophony of texture and layers in the best possible way.
A chewy slice of sourdough from Luxe Bakery in Newtown smeared with sweet potato puree and topped with fresh spinach leaves and thyme baked portobello mushrooms was just what I hoped for.
Festive watermelon radishes, grilled asparagus, an Italian agresto herb sauce, Pepe Saya truffle butter and micro greens finished off the stack.
RJ’s sourdough was spread with a bite-y chilli-capsicum relish and topped with spinach leaves, tender flaked cured ocean trout, roasted parsnip cubes, fresh avocado, leeks, sesame seeds and a dollop of creamy mascapone.
We resisted both the Pear & Rhubarb Crumble affogato and the various cakes on display near the door, but there’s always next time…
You won’t find any traditional breakfast items at Something for Jess, and while we would have loved a runny poached egg on top of both our open-faced sandwich stacks, Philip is taking a slightly different yet no less enticing approach to cafe food.
Now there are no promises that either the mushroom or trout dish will be on the menu when you go to Something for Jess – but with mushrooms being in season I’d bet they will be making a regular appearance. On the other hand I fully intend to make this layered feast at home very soon.
- Value: on-par with most Sydney breakfast and lunch spots for cost. Decent servings mean you won’t leave hungry.
- 5 Senses: Antique-y and bright, everyone will have a favourite spot whether a outward facing seat at a shared table, a cozy desk in the corner or a stool along the long counter on the wall. Indulge in a bit of visual ‘find the quirkiest decoration’ stimulation and people watching, or just hide in a paper and make yourself comfortable.
- Service: Efficient and friendly, grab a table and place your order with which ever roaming server reaches you first. Make sure to do a full menu circuit or you’re bound to miss something. Sandwiches are front and centre as you walk in but not mentioned on the main menu board. Weekly mains listed on a chalkboard on the far wall. Juice, affogato and single origin coffee on separate boards near the window. Drinks including tea on a clipboard that can be requested.
- Boomerang Effect: With sandwiches changing daily and the main menu weekly there is always something new. I’ll be back.
SOMETHING FOR JESS – CHIPPENDALE, SYDNEY
CORNER ABERCROMBIE AND O’CONNOR STREETS
SYDNEY, NSW 2008 AUSTRALIA
Mushroom Mania 2013
Mushrooms really are one of my favourite brunch – or any time really – foods, and with both Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D among a raft of other health benefits, it’s no wonder I adore them. If you’re looking for some ideas here are a few mushroom recipes I prepared earlier.
Find out more here about how you can participate in Mushroom Mania this July and enter to win a $100 dining voucher just for sharing your favourite mushroom dishes from cafés, bistros, clubs, pubs and restaurants across Australia.
The search for mushroom dishes across Sydney has been sponsored by Australian Mushrooms Growers as part of their 2013 Mushroom Mania campaign. Review venue chosen based on inclusion of mushrooms on the menu, all meals were paid for, all opinions are my own.