What sticks out about Precinct 37 isn’t just the food, it’s how they’ve struck out a new path in a well-trodden environment.
Annandale’s new café, Precinct 37, is more than a blend of taste and expertise. Is it the tale of ambitious people getting out there, soldiering in the face of an industry facing several crises. In the last year, the hospitality endeavours that succeed are those who know what they’re doing.
Thankfully, Precinct 37’s Leo Bonello and Petch Nittayaphant have dropped an Asian remix on eggs ‘n’ toast, and look to have carved out a sumptuous all-day breakfast niche for themselves in Booth Street’s crowded field of café contenders. It’s their unique bent which will doubtlessly see them rise above the crowd.
Precinct 37’s Asian-inspired board of fare puts a welcome spin on the standard breakfast menu. The Brulee Banana Bread was festooned with miso caramel, rendering the thing rich and moreish, combined with mascarpone, banana and bacon. For the life of me, I cannot figure why it’s a combination that works, but it does. I didn’t invent the rules; take it up with Heston Blumenthal.
The Smoked Trout Crumpet added crème fraîche and herbs, signalling we’re a long way from the humble days of ‘honey’ on one’s crumpet, which is not a euphemism (here, at least). Truly delicious. ‘The Hawker’ is a Kimchi pancake, served with a poached egg, herb salad and a burnt palm sugar caramel. A delightful melange at the intersection of savoury and sweet, could have been the highlight, were it not for the fact that everything else was setting the gustatory gold standard.
There was a time a few years ago when it was as hard to get good coffee in Sydney as it was to get bad coffee in Melbourne. But thankfully there’s been a shift in styles in the Harbour City, and standards have mercifully lifted. Precinct 37’s brew was on par with the standards of its food menu. Their beans are by Ona Coffee, hailing out of Melbourne, offering a nutty and full-bodied flavour sans bitterness.
Their selection of sandwiches and pastries in the window looked very appealing. Were their menu items not so substantial, the cake-to-go option would most certainly have been embraced.
The thing about good food is that you can never seem to get enough of it, so Precinct 37’s large servings have that issue under wraps. Add to that the service being friendly and food service coming at a quick pace, delivering the goods in rapid time without feeling rushed.
The staff stopped by mid-meal to see how things were going, which was no easy feat considering the volumes of people being fed. The outdoor seating was suitable for people watching, but as the winter months creep in, the idea of eating their delicious morsels in front of their roaring fireplace is more than appealing.
Currently, the café is open downstairs, with the upstairs restaurant scheduled to open later in the year.
You want people to take risks, especially in food service, which is as risk-averse a field as any.
That Precinct 37 can strike out a new path in a well-trodden environment, and do so as well as they have done is testament to the owner’s spirit, as much as it is their ingenuity and skill in the kitchen.