John Smith Cafe
Time Out says
Impressive food is being whipped up in a decidedly unimpressive area of south Sydney
Don't drive by too quickly or you'll miss the place altogether. It's located in a standard, warehouse-style structure on a not particularly enticing run of Botany Road, but don't let the arid, shade-free surrounds detract you. The lack of trees outside means the room – which is admittedly cosy – is a well-lit affair, especially on blindingly sunny days like the one on which we visit. Grab a seat in one of the booths or along the windows, where you can watch the traffic pass by on Botany Road. (Not much to see, we'll admit, but at least there's finally an eatery on this stretch that isn't a run-of-the-mill sandwich joint serving cold schnitzel sandwiches.)
The beans are seasonal and supplied from Rebel Roasters, run by co-owner Josh Folden. The brews are as potent as you'd expect with a name like that, but we have our eyes on the vinegar sodas (so trendy!). So if you've already amped yourself up on coffee when you visit, go for the raspberry option. You'll be glad you did – it's just the right amount of tart, and goes well with our salad, which is dotted with a healthy mess of ingredients including chickpeas, rocket and some adorably tiny, purplish edible flower petals. We opt for the grillled chicken as accompaniment, and it's the right choice – it's a succulent and flavourful add-on.
A glass cabined brimming with sweets is located in the room's dead centre, beckoning you to fold as you approach the till to pay for your meal. If you've got a hankering for a cronut, go for it – the classic option is our preference, though they tend to have other flavours for sale, along with more traditional donuts and pretty little cakes that look almost too good to eat. Don't let their cute faces fool you – we try a coconut and lime number that zings in all the right ways.
This stretch of Botany Road has a long way to go until it really looks like a destination, but if you're in the area, passing through (maybe you're on the way home from the airport? Or Bunnings?), John Smith has you covered for inventive daytime dishes and strong, potent brews. The only ordinary thing about the place is its name.
1 John St
|Opening hours:||Mon-Fri 6.30am-4pm; Sat, Sun 7am-5pm|