November 22nd, 2016

Does My Bomb Look Big In This?

Review - Sub-Station Cafe

Alex Harmon returns from a brief hiatus with this surprising Alexandria cafe...

On first appearances, a tiny café in a converted electrical substation serving organic breakfasts and Single Origin coffee could have you passing this off as 'peak Inner West' - another bunch of hipsters trying their luck by channeling the Polish communist era.

But you'd be mistaken, owner Ram Stern is about as earnest as you can get, using his old storage annex to serve some humble, honest food and loving every minute of it.

In here, there’s nowhere to hide if someone doesn’t like your Kashkaval Eggs ($16.50) – luckily they’ll have you scraping the pan with pleasure.

Sure there are exposed light bulbs (although in this venue I think they serve the purpose without irony) and there’s Smashed Avo ($17.50 with salmon) on the menu, but it doesn’t feel pretentious.

The Israeli-born entrepreneur isn’t here to pander to your whims, although he does admit, “you can’t have a café in Australia without putting bacon on the menu.” He just wants to keep it simple, with fresh ingredients in-house while working with the tight space he has. “We don’t have the stove space to make things like sauces – everything is cooked fresh,” he says.

In such a tiny place they manage to think of everything – like three egg stations allocated as to how they’ll be cooked, a hanging herb garden, and at one point I see a chef climbing a ladder into the roof.

It’s really a brunch destination, with breakfast served all day, but at lunch they have a selection of hearty sandwiches, like the Station Steak Sandwich ($14.00) with scotch fillet steak, grilled haloumi, herb and chilli aioli served on a ciabatta (the bread is sourced from Luxe, but pretty much everything else is made here).

Ram talks us into the house special, the Zucchini Fritters ($18) served with a poached egg, chorizo, cannellini beans and herbs – I thought it might be underwhelming, but like its discerning owner, there’s something unique about this dish.

The people on McEvoy street are a bizarre mix of factory outlet shoppers seeping off buses and first home buyers on their way to purchase herb planters from Bunnings – but somehow I think this newish café will attract the masses at the speed of light.

Sub-Station Cafe
124 McEvoy Street, Waterloo
Ph: (02) 9557 9868

Sub-Station Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato