The boys who brought us The Stables in Surry Hills bring their blend of speciality coffee and decadent brunches to the suburban streets of Newtown. You’re welcome.
The air of familiarity is stifling when you walk into 212 Blu. There’s The Stables’ signature behind-the-counter wall with painted-on menu, the same smell of freshly brewed Five Senses coffee teasing the nostrils, the popular smashed avocado brekky being ordered at the counter and The Stables' Tobin Ventham behind the machine whipping up your morning java.
It’s all so familiar and yet, not. Unlike The Stables, the tiles behind 212’s counter are a pristine white, originals from when the premises was a butcher shop way back when. Potted herbs grown from seedlings dangle from butcher’s hooks in the kitchen space, a pot of brightly coloured crayons rests on a communal wooden table at the back and a roughly hewn long bench leans against the cafe-front, inviting people-watchers and lovable pets to its door.
There’s an unmistakable Newtown-ness in the air here. And the locals are feeling it.
There have been no launch parties and no social media advertising. The cafe itself isn’t even located on the main street for added exposure. Yet, for an outfit that opened only two months ago (December 26, 2013 to be exact), it’s already secured its fair share of regulars. "We prefer to advertise by word of mouth," says Tobin.
212 Blu: the home of great 5 Senses coffee in suburban Newtown
The vibe: Easy going/casual
Ideal for: Mums, bubs, dogs, cats.
Try the...Calzone by Gigi, $14
By the way...If the cafe's full and the sun is out, you can borrow a "picnic" basket and take your meal to Camperdown Memorial Park.
Find The Stables on Facebook: The Stables/212 Blu
It’s that kind of place.
So it was by word of mouth that we discovered a few things about 212 Blu that aren’t exactly obvious when you enter. For example – and perhaps it’s greatest novelty – it lends out picnic-packs. “See those baskets over there,” Tobin says, pointing to the kitchen where a bundle of straw carry bags hang. “It can get quite busy in here,” he says of the space, which looks capable of housing 20 people comfortably. “So particularly with regulars, we offer to pack their meal in the bag. It comes with a picnic rug and a complimentary bottle of Capi water and they can take it to Camperdown Memorial Park (which is around the corner) and eat in the park. It’s really good, especially if it’s a nice day.”
Another thing we discovered is that there are two entrances to 212 Blu. One off Australia Street and the other from Eliza Street. Marked with a single sign that simply says "Coffee", you wander through the leafy backyard, down a narrow passageway and straight to the counter to peruse the cold-pressed juices and caffeine-induced blends on offer.
Like The Stables, all coffee is single origin, sourced from Five Senses and runs on a monthly rotation. Premium blends make an appearance every now and again for coffee connoisseurs, but a cold drip filter coffee is always on the board and is best consumed on a warm day. Slow brewed over 3-hours with cold purified water and served on ice, today’s Ethiopian blend was fruity and smooth. We knocked it back merrily, polished it off with a delicate macaron and then moved onto brunch.
While all sandwiches and salads are constructed on-site, the calzones (done two ways) are the genius of Gigi. Locals will be familiar with this pizzeria, which bakes its Neapolitan-style pizzas in a special dome wood-fired oven. Its pizzas may not be on the menu, but its soft, light bread, gooey cheese and delectable fillings are. Order them to-go in a picnic basket, exit via Eliza Street in the direction of Camperdown Memorial Park and do as the locals do: lay down your rug on the green, open up a bottle of water and drink to good company, good food and a damn good day.
Now this is what we’re talkin’ about.
Where: 212 Australia Street, Newtown
Opening Hours: Daily (7am-4pm)