Some of the best cafes are those stumbled upon. My colleague, M, had mentioned seeing a promising cafe on Abercrombie St during a stroll from Redfern to Ultimo in June, and I had mistakenly thought he meant Something for Jess. It’s a small cafe on the corner behind the development at Central Park and next to the small art galleries dotting Chippendale. Seating is on a handful of communal tables with mismatched chairs. Its menu changes weekly depending on the produce sourced from the local market.
On my first visit with N, I go for the Free Range Double Smoked Ham Bruschetta ($17) with roasted jerusalem artichoke puree, confit ox heart tomato, hand grated gruyere cheese, baby cauliflower, braised pine brown mushroom, organic poached egg, salsa verde.
Now that is one piled high bruschetta! Before I dig in, I’m hit with a strong whiff of cheese as the gruyere melts atop the freshly poached egg, and it’s yummy with all the other ingredients. What is evident with the first bite (and every bite after) is the freshness of the produce — everything is super sweet and crisp and juicy. I’m not sure I’ve had sweeter mushrooms, and while I could’ve lived without the cauliflower, that was also super crisp and white. There’s a lot of different ingredients on this bruschetta, and the textures and flavours all balance beautifully.
N opted for the Beetroot-Corn Rosti ($16) with roasted yam-zucchini flower puree, blistered vein tomato, fresh fig, caramelised walnut, housemade labne, fresh avocado.
I don’t ordinarily talk about dishes that I haven’t eaten myself, and this was just too gorgeous! After a small taste, I was completely in food envy of N’s corn rosti — the corn kernels were so super sweet and juicy that I’ve never tasted corn kernels quite like it! With N’s dish I also tried figs for the first time — they taste something like a more textural and substantial watermelon. Quite yummy.
On my next visit with colleagues, I order the Smoked Chicken Sandwich ($10) with spiced hummus, braised eggplant, roasted turnips, and provolone cheese.
One of my favourite Middle Eastern dishes is a mashed eggplant dip (baba ghanoush/muttabal). So, I’m keen on anything that includes hummus and eggplant, and this was one tasty sandwich — the hummus and eggplant were quite soft as expected, and that went well with the juicy chicken breast. And the cheese? Well, in moderation, cheese just makes everything taste better. I could’ve done without the roasted turnips and their usual strange sweetness. Overall, it was a filling and tasty sandwich.
Their affogato changes weekly. I tried their affogato with hojicha ice cream ($6).
I’ve seen hojicha ice cream very rarely in Japan and when I tried it in Japan, I enjoyed it immensely and wished it was more widely available. So when I spotted it, I needed to try it! Nevermind that it was at a non-Japanese cafe or even a Japanese neighborhood.
The hojicha in the ice cream was absolutely delicious — the shop describes hojicha as a ‘smoked’ Japanese tea even though ‘roasted’ green tea is more accurate. It’s a distinctly different smell and taste to your ordinary green tea — its refined comforting and homey aroma — and it’s happily evident in the hojicha ice cream. As for the espresso shot in the affogato? That was a miss for me — the shot was sour. Regardless, the flavour of coffee overwhelemed the subtle hojicha flavours in the ice cream when eaten together. Having wanted to try the item solely for the hojicha ice cream, I ended eating the ice cream and drinking the espresso shot separately.
M assured me that, despite the sourness of the shot in my affogato, they served good coffee. So the second time, I order an iced latte ($3.50). This was a definite improvement from the affogato — the sourness was gone, replaced with some citrus notes that (according to M) is a result of the Ethiopian beans used. It’s not my favourite coffee, although it was decent.
While I’m not too keen on their coffees, Something for Jess serves up delicious dishes — I’ll be back!
Something for Jess is located at the corner of Abercrombie St and O’Connor Street, Chippendale NSW 2008.