|Cafe Mint on Crown St Surry Hills|
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 Darlinghurst 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.