Something's happening in the lane ways of the suburbs.
They're starting to heed the call of their hipster inner city cousins by sprouting hole in the wall, lane way cafes.
I discovered 4P Espresso yesterday morning. It's off Victoria Road, in the lane next to the Drummoyne Medical Centre and pharmacy.
Baby SSG was my date for the morning and he appreciated the unique advantages of suburban lane way cafe culture over the 'original' inner city movement from the point of view on the 'plus kids' patron. For a start, parking is a breeze. I found off street parking five minutes away and I head plenty of room to unpack and assemble the pram whilst being able to keep a close eye on him in the car and the baby bag on the pavement.
Secondly, getting around is safe and peasant. It was a pleasant walk beside the street on uninterrupted footpaths. I give the Drummoyne footpath network a AAA rating. Baby SSG had no problem falling asleep as I wheeled him along. In my pre baby years, I was woefully ignorant of why responsible local councils plough so much money into maintaining foot paths, street crossings and those graded sloping bits where the pavement meets the street.
For me, the space and the quiet are big draw cards to lane way living. The complete antithesis I suppose of the origins of the scene in other parts of Australia. Though I suspect 4P Espresso won't stay quiet for long. They do a superior mocha.
As I sat at my table sipping my coffee, I had to smile at my view. A graffiti styled wall mural and the hood of a pram. Only in Sydney and yes, probably only for a SSG photo would the pram toys be in a colour scheme that picked up the key hues of the mural.
It was a bit of a lane way kind of day, actually. Mr SSG and I happened to be in the Sydney CBD for lunch. Skyview Plaza is not technically a lane way but it had that feel. The plaza is wall to wall eateries on the ground floor and it links Kent and George Streets.
I was craving Vietnamese food, specifically the fresh spring rolls and vermicelli noodle salads. We happened upon Pho LV in the Skyview Plaza. I was a little nervous about whether we'd made the right choice after being informed that our choice of drinks from the current menu were unavailable as they were no longer making them but encouraged by the number of occupied tables, pushed on with our order. I'm glad we stayed on.
I ordered the grilled pork vermicelli salad (Bun Thit Nuong) which was $11. I was impressed at how much smoky flavour was packed into the pork considering the tiny kitchen from which it was delivered. It honestly tasted as if it had been prepared at a traditional road side stall, it was that good. There was plentiful salad along with the pork and vermicelli. Though there wasn't a huge amount of basil and mint, they were both very fresh and were a zest foil to the meat. There was silence from my side of the table as Mr SSG kept Baby SSG occupied with an interactive iPhone game as I made short and noisy work of my lunch.
Mr SSG ordered the summer rolls for $8. Again, this was a dish that surprised me with its abundance of fresh ingredients and the complex flavours. Each roll was packed with prawns, eggs and mint leaves with the noodles a lesser component of the filling. The reverse ratio of a few other establishments I've been to recently. The dipping sauce had the extra kick of what I think was pineapple juice in addition to the standard hoi sin and fish sauce.
Two surprise food finds in my home city in one day! That's a bit of a record for me.
But the best moment of the day undoubtedly came a bit later in the day. It was when Baby SSG met his older cousin for the first time. My nephew was more curious of the two. Whilst Baby SSG was content to smile for the camera as he was held and cuddled, Nephew SSG did a great job of being 'gentle with the baby' whilst still being able to satisfy his curiosity about those hands and feet that are so much smaller than his own.