Cafe Mint on Crown St Surry Hills

Cafe of the Month
July 2003

Modern North African
Middle-Eastern Fusion

Crown St
Surry Hills

(02) 9319 0848

7am – 5pm Mon, Tues, Sat
7am-11pm Wed-Fri

Darlinghurst’s Fez Cafe was a legend told many times, with owner Hugh Foster’s passion for world cuisine having settled into a profound culinary exploration of food which might be called “Southern Mediterranean”. But, as Bondi ChaiDarlinghurst lost its eclectic, arty residents, replaced by corporate clones and wally lawyers, Foster lost his appetite as much as Darlo lost its locals. Foster floated as Fez faded, with a stint at Paddington’s Sloanes Cafe keeping him off the streets. Then he found his audience again. They had moved to the back end of Surry Hills, snuggled into the terraces around Cleveland Street. Suddenly, a little den caught his eye – the business ailing, the space entrancing. It pays to have a mate in hospitality design, and Hugh rang Rob Sample, the man who designed trendoid oases Longrain and Jimmy Liks. With a few bits of stone and offcuts of wood, Sample wrought a cosy twist on the theme “African hut”. If Fez is to have its “Mini-Me”, then Foster has just been Dr Frankenstein to such a creature. Many exquisite dishes are reprised: Pomegranate Lamb with Minted Eggplant & Lentils with Dates (pictured left) is sublime; Meze Small or Large with Turkish Bread is an old Fez classic; Chickpea Salad with Grilled Haloumi & Turkish Bread (pictured right) got the thumbs up from our Sydneycafes dining buddy; while the dessert of Kuneffah: Ricotta & Mozzarella in Shredded Pastry with Cardamom Syrup, Pistachios and Quince (pictured top) is a special worth asking for – if Hugh has the ingredients on hand, he’ll whip it up. Another Fez fave, the Breakfast Couscous with Yoghurt, Fruit Compote and Pistachios is revived, but it’s worth noting that Foster caters amply for Aussie palates, with Bacon & Eggs or a Ham, Cheese & Tomato Sandwich keeping less adventurous dining mates from being ostracised. And well-known barista Phil Pak’s coffee speaks all languages, adding to the multicultural magic of Mint.