Amongst the high density developments lies a warm and welcoming brunch venue
Ah, Mascot. The commercial-residential hub surrounding the railway station is home to a stack of apartments up top, and generic ground-floor businesses below: Domino’s (tick), Subway (tick) and a F45 training gym (tick-tick). The suburb has a couple of hidden Asian eatery gems (including bánh mì royalty Hong Ha Hot Bread), but on the whole, the culinary scene here is less than vibrant.
Praise be, then, for Coward Corner, bravely named after the street on which it’s located. This 14 seat neighbourhood cafe is run in part by Daniel McNeill, a former owner of John Smith in Waterloo and Fossix in the CBD. The outdoor seating is a prime spot to soak up some rays on a sunny day, but when the weather is gloomy, retreat inside where super-friendly staff will arrange sparkling water and offer blankets to stave off the winter chill.
We warm up pronto with a filter batch brew coffee. Like many cafes, Coward Corner rotate through featured specialty roasters for their filter coffee. On our visit, there’s an Ethiopian Kochere, roasted by Newtown’s Grace & Taylor. It’s top stuff – lightly floral, and fully delightful. It’s disappointing then that the follow-up flat white is … a bit flat.
There’s not room for resentment once the ‘shrooms on toast arrive. Oven-roasted field and enoki mushrooms and a wobbly poached egg are stacked on a piece of seeded toast; the plate scattered with toasted almonds, black sesame seeds and goat’s cheese. It’s an earthy and textural dish that scores high marks for vegetarian brunch.
But if it’s bacon you’re after, we recommend the How Cowards Roll. The menu special is a mod-Asian rendering of the classic bacon ‘n’ egg roll. It’s a duo of fried eggs and bacon (they do the crisp-fried kind here), with relief from coriander, texture from fried shallots and a good whack of chilli to wake you up from your sleepy Sunday stupor. It’s all swaddled in a charcoal brioche roll, though the charcoal flavour is so subtle the gothic bun is more for on-trend aesthetics. There’s an extra ring of sweet soy sauce on the plate – swipe your roll through it for extra umami. It’s a messy beast, so thoughtful staff provide extra napkins.
For their lunch service, Coward Corner also do a nourishing line-up of sandwiches, wraps, salads and ‘bowls’, which riff on various combos of roasted pumpkin, pulled pork, and shredded greens, but there are bigger wins for the sweet tooths than for clean eaters over at the overflowing counter of baked goods, courtesy of Ellen Fox. The local baker churns out pretty-as-a-picture red velvet cakes, three-layer chocolate-raspberry jam monoliths with silky “mirror glaze” ganache, and a spiced carrot and pumpkin number, held together with cream cheese icing and finished with a pecan crumble. On our visit, there’s also a whole baked cheesecake – gloriously fluffy, gently zesty and featuring a light-as-feather crumb base.
In Mascot’s concrete jungle, Coward Corner is like a watering hole for locals. Cafe staff greet and banter with regular diners and take-away coffee orferers, and are equally warm and attentive to new faces. There’s talk of converting the cafe into a small bar for upcoming summer evenings, and adding booze options to the day-time brunch service. For the meantime though, it’s injecting some much-needed heart, hospitality and good food into the community.
|Venue name:||Coward Corner|
|Opening hours:||Mon-Fri 6.30am-3.30pm Sat-Sun 7am-3.30pm|