You read that right: it’s a five-star review. And if you’re wondering how on earth a little Surry Hills café could possibly stand up to the likes of Quay, Rockpool or Tetsuya’s – well, it doesn’t. That’s why we have a separate cafés category in Time Out: so we can rate coffee shops, bakeries and other non-restaurant establishments on their own terms. So here it is – our first five-star café review.
Why is this unassuming place pretty much kicking the arse of every other café in town right now? Well, they’re doing exceptional food, great juices (watermelon, lemon and mint, say, or apple, pineapple and mint), Single Origin coffee, and although they’re a little herbal (they sling chai and serve organic soft drinks, small-estate teas and the like) they’re not big posers.
Visit the open-plan café for lunch and order the pulled pork sandwich. It’s a marvel, and not just because pork is the king of all meats. It’s because the striations of sweet, sweet meat meld seamlessly with cooling fresh cucumber and apple spiced up with tomato chutney and slathered with aioli on dark sourdough.
Coming in at photo finish is the rare roast beef number. Sweet Polish pickled cucumbers (polski ogorki), thick slices of tomato, Dijon mustard and cos lettuce with onion relish is a sloppy, messy, fall-apart-in-your-hands-before-it-gets-to-your-mouth affair. Tuck your napkin into your top and put another on your lap. This is a sandwich that takes commitment.
Of course, you could always eat the burger instead, which comes with tasty hand-cut chips, all nubbly and golden with their skins still on. It’s a beef burger in all its glory with cheddar cheese melted on the patty, pickled beetroot, onion, lettuce and tomato.
There’s also the pie. It’s pumpkin and eggplant and totally fine, but we’ll be going back for the free-range chicken version. Other things we’ll be going back for? The Caesar salad with poached egg, white anchovies and bacon, and we can’t resist a good ol’ fashioned chocolate milkshake. But then, nor can we resist mango and vanilla or banana, cinnamon and honey.
Four Ate Five is the type of café we’d eat in every day. It’s got brilliant food, friendly service and a pulled pork sandwich that visits us in our dreams.