Revolving doors

April 2008

Sad to learn just after eating a terrific meal there that Thomas Johns is selling Pello, the best incarnation of that venerable site (71-73 Stanley Street, originally La Veneziana, an Italian workman’s café from the 1950s), since Mario’s in the 80s. I had a juicy loin of swordfish on a bed of something called panzanella — loose interpretation — with crabmeat through it. But the best dish was a beetroot pavé with little parmesan croquettes. Thomas is taking a well-deserved rest. We’ll keep an eye out for his next venture.

There’s a curious new place on Glebe Point Road. Why curious? First, the name: Naggy’s Café (333 Glebe Point Road 9566 4860). It comes from the Nepalese chef and owner, Nagendra Gautam. Barista and manager Noele (from Hong Kong — “just Noele”) tells me it’s because no one can pronounce his full name. Second, the décor: an eclectic mix of chairs that looks like someone raided a furniture store at midnight — but you know what? It works. “It was the designer’s idea,” said Noele, “because the place is so big, to break it up.” Down the back it looks a bit like a Victorian drawing room with red plush sofas and easy chairs and a wall of old-fashioned flower paintings. But the coffee (Espresso di Manfredi) is well made, the simple Australian café food is well cooked — you can go so wrong with bacon and eggs and Naggy’s doesn’t — and the service is swift and charming. It hasn’t affected business at the Glebe Street Deli next door but one, but it has sorted out the clientele. Naggy’s is hip, young Glebe, the Deli old lefty Glebe.

One of our favourite chefs, Jeff Schroeter who closed Eat City in September 2007 has turned up at the Bayswater Brasserie (32 Bayswater Road Kings Cross 9357 2177) with a brief to refresh the menu and generally jive the joint up a little. Which he is doing — there’ll be food out front at the oyster bar (tapasy things) and there are already a few Schroeteresque items on the menu: the spatchcock on a jicama salad, for example. His front-of-house partner at Eat City, David Murphy, is working his front-of-house magic at Teppanyaki in the new Ivy complex (330 George Street 9240 3000).

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