After a week of cold weather and a few days of gales, Spring finally stuck its head out from under a rug of clouds to make Sunday a fabulous day to head outdoors again. I spent the morning running errands and by 2pm I still hadn't eaten a scrap, so when Ruby Molteno called and suggested a late lunch, I swung by, scooped her up and we landed promptly at the doorway of Forbes and Burton cafe.
Forbes and Burton is located in an 1850s building that stretches all the way from 238-252 Forbes Street, and is listed on the Register of the National Estate. I'll be doing a post soon about the history of the building, known as the Belgrave Terrace.
On such a lovely day we were surprised at first to discover an available outdoor table, so we donned hats and sat in the sun . . . until we became so sickeningly hot from its rays, and realised why most diners were sitting inside.
We placed our order and moved inside too:
But I still can't talk about its 21st Century life without mentioning the building's historical sandstone walls with their chip marks from the workers' picks. The building is right across the road from the National Art School and former Darlinghurst Gaol, which is mainly built from sandstone that was dug out from the local area by convict workers.
The gaol was constructed between 1821 to 1841 and I wonder if the sandstone used on the Belgrave Terrace was hacked out by its convict neighbours or was left-overs.
The interior design of Forbes and Burton makes the most of the building's heritage aspects, but also includes nice modern embellishments, such as this crimson-pink, reflective panel:
The building was home to the very trendy Dov cafe until 2006 when David Pegrum, a former head chef at the internationally acclaimed Sydney restaurant Tetsuyas, took over the kitchen.
I ordered the special of the day, which the waiter incorrectly recited to me, and which turned out to be Braised Chicory and Salmon Fillet en Papillote with Asparagus ($22). The waiter wasn't far off the mark though (he thought the chicory was witlof) and he was right when he said it was a good-looking dish:
It tasted great too and there was some wilted greens, drenched in deliciously fattening butter, hidden beneath the fish. Ms Molteno, the all-day breakfast queen, ordered poached eggs with whole-grain toast, bacon and tomato:
I asked Ruby why on earth she always orders bacon and eggs when she could easily cook them at home. She said it's because she doesn't like to have bacon in the fridge as she wants to keep fatty temptations right out of sight. I suspect the real reason is because she doesn't much like cooking. Ruby then went on a discourse about how such a seemingly simple dish can be cooked so many ways and how each cafe's bacon and eggs tasted completely different.
Ruby said she didn't truly realise this until she went to London many years ago and discovered to her horror that some cafes didn't know how to cook bacon and eggs. As for the Forbes and Burton version, Ruby was full of admiration: the eggs were plump and free range, the tomatoes were Roma and the bacon wasn't too salty.
Then because I hadn't eaten all day and because I had to work in the evening and life is too short to say no to anything, I ordered the Chocolate Brownie with Raspberry Coulis and Yoghurt:We weren't quite sure about the yoghurt blob - surely it should have been double cream - but the sourish yoghurt and raspberry were a good foil for the sweet chocolate.
Forbes and Burton
252 Forbes Street
Darlinghurst NSW 2010
02 9356 8788