The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry | A Sydney Food Blog

In The Annex, Forest Lodge

July 2nd, 2013  |  Published in Cafes  |  4 Comments


Some places have a way of winning you over in record-breaking time. This is the case with In The Annex in Forest Lodge, which is now my new favourite cafe.


It’s the kind of establishment where you order something unassuming, like Roasted Potato ($15), thinking it’ll just be target practice for your knife and fork. Then the dish arrives at your table and it’s this expectation-blitzing work of art – an exquisite sculpture collection on a plate, with zucchini ribbons unscrolling around clouds of potato puree; play coins of potato, so vibrantly coloured they’re like escapees from a Miro painting; a feathery landing of dill and parsley, chunky edges of smoked cheddar and a dynamite stick of seeded Organic Bread Bar goodness. From plain-sounding order to knockout when fully revealed – it’s kinda like the brunch version of The Ugly Duckling.


Perhaps this should be no surprise as the menu is by Joey Astorga (who can take credit for this cafe, alongside Edrick Santos and Theo Hlorotiris). He used to be head chef at El Capo in Surry Hills, which was home to a three-milk cake so good-looking that I called it the “Ryan Gosling of desserts”. So, here, you can order a side of Avo ($4) to go with your breakfast, thinking it’ll be another functional, background-receding dish, but it comes out as artful avocado crescents with radish slices that could be stunt doubles for lily blooms. And OK, so the Brussel Sprouts ($4), roasted and tossed through with sesame seeds, isn’t exactly a pin-up beauty, but it’s so flavoursome that it’d instantly erase the bad rep the vegetable has among green-fearing kids.


It’s not the usual breakfast extra you’d see on a cafe menu either, but that’s the charm of In The Annex – its selection is short, capped at five items for each daytime meal, but they’re not the usual suspects. Early risers can order a Kale and Egg Roll with Chilli Relish and Aioli ($6.50; $8.50 with crispy speck) or Earl Grey Bircher Muesli with Pineapple and Passionfruit ($10), for instance; while lunchtime diners can ask for Cured Duck ($16) with brioche, duck egg and the excellent brussel sprouts; Crumbed Egg with Mushy Peas ($15) or Spiced Eggplant ($15), which is tucked in a tomato braise with potato chunks, olives, capers, poached egg ($15) – it’s one of those warming, security-blanket dishes that feels like an upside to this miserable cold weather.


There are also inventive drinks – like a frappe blitzed together from grapefruit, honey, ginger and tonic ($8) – or something that’s halfway between a virgin Bloody Mary and gazpacho (it’s a savoury, icy crush of tomato, chilli, lime and celery). And good coffee by Umami and tea offerings by Ttotaler in Marrickville.


There’s an eccentric charm to the space: tables, made of reclaimed wood, have that patchy reveal of old, withheld colours; a spice grinder is a hiding spot for toothpicks, while a Bankstown souvenir spoon is shovelled into a labware beaker functioning as a sugar pot. Many items were either recycled (such as the 100-year-old bricks) or happened to be unique scores from op shops. So In The Annex has this lived-in, age-worn appeal, like it’s been here for ages, instead of only being a few weeks old. I like this place a lot, I hope it racks up a longevity that matches the lengthy lives of all the vintage goods scattered throughout.

In The Annex, 35 Ross St, Forest Lodge NSW. Follow In The Annex on Facebook

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  1. Beautifully plated dishes. Do you know if they have the menu online?

  2. leetranlam says:

    Hi @lateraleating – they’re very good-looking meals, aren’t they? I could only find the Facebook address online. As for a menu, it’s very short; besides the dishes I’ve mentioned above, there’s also a breaky burrito; eggs & kale on toast; and sheep feta, radish, broccoli & pine nut salad. The menu is meant to change seasonally, so could be a few differences when you pop in.

  3. The dishes are beautifully plated, love your description of the first dish! It totally reminds me of Miro.

    It would be awesome to have this cafe to wake up to in the mornings. Definitely on my list of places to visit when I am in Sydney next.

  4. Went here for breakfast, which was delightful. So good to see them using seasonal veges like kale as much as possible. Your photos have made me want to go back for lunch too!

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Hi, I'm Lee Tran Lam. When not blogging with my mouth full, I'm usually writing, presenting Local Fidelity on FBi radio, making zines, producing podcasts or continually breaking promises about how I really am gonna get through my book pile one day.

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This is a blog about eating and drinking in Sydney, Australia (with the odd cross-border or off-topic detour). BYO appetite.

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