Cornerstone Cafe Bar, Crows Nest

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Some foods are just not very graceful to be seen eating in public. A piece of cake, yes. A bowl of salad, sure. A coffee, or cup of tea, of course. But something on a stick like, say, a kebab, or juicy like watermelon...not so much. Spaghetti, hmm maybe. Pizza? Perhaps. But a burger? Uh uh. Not a chance. So it's lucky that most of the time I eat burgers I'm with my family, people I can happily eat anything in the company of. But on the occasions I do venture out with friends, sometimes it's not so smooth sailing. But if you can't eat naturally in front of your friends, then what are friends for, right? 

Down the cafe cluster of Willhoughby Road in Crows Nest sits Cornerstone Cafe Bar, suitably situated on a corner, opening up to the busy streetside. It's an open, breezy, homey space by day and by night it turns into a moody bar. The lunch menu kicks in at 12:30pm, before that breakfast it an affair that's a little further away from the typical classics - think Chia seed Porridge, Swiss Potato Rosti and Mascarpone French Toast. There's also a tapas menu if you'd like to share a few plates of have a nibble with your drink. 

This used to be the site of Coco Cubano, and reopened only a couple of months ago under the new name.We arrive just after midday and while we wait for the lunch menu to tick over the staff are happy to take orders for drinks. 

It's kitsch and funky in the way only a cafe could be; tiles line the outside shopfront and framed pictures scatter the walls, with comfy armchairs dotted amongst the classic flapper-era wooden chairs. It's quiet on this mid-week day and out the large, opened-up front windows ladies with prams, people on errands and office workers amble past, enjoying the warm Sun on their lunch break. This stretch of Crows Nest has is leafy and relaxed, despite being a hop skip and jump away from busy Pacific Highway and less than 10 minutes away from Sydney CBD. It's a haven in an otherwise hurried hub.

Tropical Mango Smoothie

Even this Tropical Mango Smoothie was a little hard to sip gracefully, the tall chilled glass filled so high and bountiful with sunshine yellow smoothie that tiny dribbles overflow down the side. It's icy and thick to the point of melting, soft ice cream, with hints of refreshing coconut among the tropical coolness. 

Quinoa Salad ($16.50)

A Quinoa Salad comes as a deep bowl of quinoa marbled with baby spinach, thin slices of radish, chunks of corn, cherry tomatoes and blobs of soft goats cheese. It's topped with sweet potato chips that are sweet, crunchy and a little bit chewy where they've caramelised around the edges. The dressing tastes of sesame and lends a tasty punch to this fresh, wholesome salad. 

Cornerstone take on a Club Sandwich ($18.50)

This a monster of a sandwich that is a dichotomy of the dainty, healthy salad, filled with a generous piling of chilli pulled pork, Swiss cheese, crispy bacon, red cabbage and aioli dusted with black sesame, snug between toasted white loaf. The strands of pork have a flavour reminiscent of Kimchi, slightly spicy with drippings of chilli oil; there is so much of it that there would be enough to feed one hungry person without any of the other sandwich fillings. The double pork-hit of bacon is shatteringly crispy and the chips are wonderful. They're the epitome of the crisp, golden outside and fluffy, soft inside, with aioli on the side. 


Can you believe the sheet height of this sandwich? Thankfully we shared this between two, so cutting it in half enabled more graceful handling. A useful technique I found with burger (or in this case, huge sandwich) handling is to grasp the bun (or bread) tight and not put it down until you've eaten enough to ensure that placing it back on the plate won't cause the contents to 'unravel' and spill out everywhere. Try it next time!

Despite the cafe being near to empty, our food did take a little bit longer than expected to arrive, perhaps in tune with the leisurely vibe of the eatery. Both the salad and sandwich had surprises in them that delighted and were presented carefully and beautifully. It is a little on the up side in terms of price for a cafe, but there is a lot of eatery competition along the Willhoughby Road strip. Cornerstone sets itself apart from other cafes with a menu with a twist that offers their takes on the new wholesome dishes that so many people are obsessed about in today's health-consicous (and monster-sandwich seeking) eating scene. 

Cornerstone Cafe Bar on Urbanspoon

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