THE historic harbourside suburb of Carrington is the new epicentre of a burgeoning wave of eateries, enticing those who traverse the Cowper Street Bridge with mouth-watering cuisine ranging from Asian fusion to Mediterranean.
The newest kid on the block is Cafe Inu, which opened in a former warehouse in May and blends the industrial grunge of the suburb with the simple pleasures of Japan.
Owner Miwa Haas relocated in 2004 from south-west Japan to Sydney, where she worked as a barista in a French patisserie before moving to the tight-knit community – ‘‘the city’s best kept secret’’ – in 2010 to work at Nagisa and Asa-Don.
‘‘I saw a gym that was for sale and thought it would be great to have a cafe there; it’s a lovely place with lots of parking and a nice atmosphere and I wanted it to be dog-friendly,’’ she said.
Ms Haas’ American Staffy named Bear is with her every day, wandering among early-morning customers who favour the breakfast roll made with free-range Hunter Valley eggs, bacon smoked by the cafe and homemade spicy sauce with tomato, oregon, garlic and jalapeno.
The menu includes Crave espresso blend coffee and loose-leaf tea, and wholesome fast food made with seasonal ingredients, including open sandwiches and salad, as well as teriyaki chicken pizza with cabbage, shallots, Japanese mayo and dried seaweed.
The hot dogs are made with pork sausage, curried cabbage and Japanese mayonnaise; crocodile with spicy sauce, jalapeno and cheese; and duck with rocket, caramelised pear and sliced almond.
A few steps away, noted chef Lesley Taylor has opened another restaurant in a bowling club.
The head chef at Longworth House, Made By Lesley Taylor (formerly known as Le Petite Deux) and rustic Italian-based Osteria at Merewether Bowling Club has opened The Cove at Carrington Cove Bowling Sports and Recreation Club.
‘‘Considering the economic climate at the moment, I wanted to do good food, but wanted to do it at a cheaper price,’’ she said.
‘‘It doesn’t matter what people pay for food, they deserve to get a good product.
‘‘If they order a burger, we want it to be the best burger they have ever eaten.’’
The lunch and dinner menus include steaks, schnitzels, chicken paninis made using LaIonica poultry, pizza and pasta dishes.
The Cove also offers specials with a twist, including seafood pies and lemon and oregano chicken, as well as a constantly changing range of house-made desserts.
Around the corner in Young Street, Melbourne-raised Andy Scurry is planning to celebrate the second birthday of his cafe, Ground Up, which he opened with the aim of creating a suburban cafe that doubled as a community space, away from the traditional cafe districts.
The cafe in a former house features a funky outdoor dining area, a children’s corner and communal tables.
It prides itself on fresh, homestyle cooking, with many ingredients gathered from its vegetable and herb garden.
The menu includes the popular smoked salmon on toasted sourdough, as well as a tuna wrap with herbs, hard-boiled egg, mayonnaise, lemon, rocket and olives that can be served on wraps, sourdough, bagel or turkish bread.
On Fridays, customers can buy a freshly baked fruit and nut loaf from La Tartine Bakery in Gosford.
Across the road, Carrington Place hosts regular Thursday night performances by Jack McLaughlin’s Frenchman Street New Orleans Jazz Band.
Music-loving diners can choose from tapas and pizza in the bar or head to the a la carte restaurant for dishes including avocado and spanner crab tian and five-spice Magret duck breast.
Another block away, the Seven Seas Hotel has been a landmark since at least the 1930s but is now most renowned for its restaurant Paragon Thai, owned by head chef Kritika Rundle.
Licensee of almost four years Allan Jackson said locals opted for the softshell crab, jungle curry and braised duck, with traditional fare also popular.
Former head chef at the Hong Kong Hilton Hotel, George Lau, will next week open the only Chinese restaurant on the island at the Criterion Hotel.
Named The Pits Stop, the restaurant will offer dishes including sambal chilli chicken; Peking-style pork ribs; satay king prawns; fish fillets with ginger and shallots and a range of soups, omelettes and noodles for dining in, takeaway and delivery.
It also boasts an extensive menu of pub favourites, including schnitzels, parmigiana, grilled perch and barramundi, and steaks.