You know how people talk about food miles? You’d only need a short tape measure to size up distances between Bondi café the Nine and its suppliers. The meat is via Field to Fork Butcher on Hall Street; the loose leaf is sourced locally from the Organic Tea Project; and the beans are by Coffee Bondi Beach. Want almond and macadamia mylk in your flat white or iced latte? It’s courtesy of Mylk Bar nearby.
The 'South Side' smashed avocado is so named because it’s seasoned with seaweed scooped off that stretch of Bondi beach. The dried, crunchy specks of algae bolster the breakfast staple; instead of the snoozy avo-and-lemon cliché that bedevils cafés, the Nine gives its version extra heft and contrast, thanks to a nutty layer of tahini, light fennel shavings, two kinds of sesame, a shower of salty feta crumbles and a #cleaneating cameo by kale (it’s Bondi, after all).
Protein lovers should order the salmon. It's a popular OG dish from the café’s early 2016 launch, and it's given a local touch by being slowly cured with shaved beetroot and a white wine vinegar made from booze that’s oxidised in-house.
Ironically, the Nine’s obsession with proximity comes from several time zones away: China. It’s where owners Sebastien Dallee and Julie Brument met. He was a restaurant manager from Sydney; she was importing organic products from her native France. Not having access to quality seasonal ingredients in China led them to opening this venue in Sydney.
And while the Nine does focus on the organic, sustainable and clean, its menu is neither joyless nor full of unrequested sermonising. The nut mylk isn’t just a vegan alternative for coffee drinkers – it also goes nicely in the iced chai, which is batch-brewed with star anise, black wattle honey, cinnamon and nutmeg and sprinkled with 'chai dust' on top.
Prepare your tastebuds for the Wild Forest mushroom – the ultra-savoury mix of enoki, buttons and Swiss Browns is roasted with a balsamic and sumac reduction that’s super flavour-charged. The Better than Botox juice doesn’t have any clinical anti-ageing effects but its light blend of watermelon, basil, strawberry and lime is a mellow counter attack for a hot day. Of course this licensed café serves vodka that’s gluten-free, Fairtrade and made with quinoa – but it’ll spike your coffee and shakes just as effectively as the cheap stuff.
Make brunch dessert a thing and order the tiramisú that isn’t a wholefoods Trojan horse hiding a spirulina or chia seed surprise – rather, it’s a charming take on the coffee-soaked sponge classic: not too boozy, layered with mascarpone and sprinkled with hazelnut praline, honeycomb and grated chocolate. Rather than being rich and heavy, it’s as breezy as this laidback café, which is a big part of why people love it so much.