This bright and airy cafe/restaurant has a nicely shielded (non-smoking) outdoor setting – a virtual oasis from the ravages of the Pacific Highway.
It’s a surprising find, located in the modern Urban Hotel across the road from the Royal North Shore Hospital. Their location informs their practice in a number of ways - relatives of seriously ill patients are particularly well looked after by the hotel - and the cuisine of Canadian Head Chef Christopher Shannon is healthy, produce-driven and (refreshingly) not too fancy.
General Manager Amanda Cottome explains that Shannon’s responsible for sourcing the locally produced chook; laughingly adding: “You know chefs!” His moist Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken Breast ($29) makes me very glad they let him.
His aesthetic Panzanella Salad ($16) sings with vibrant tomatoes and chewy (Brasserie Bread) sourdough croutons.
A crunchy Herb Crusted Barramundi ($29) makes for a stylishly simple dinner; the fish is set off by crunchy asparagus.
Good technique also shines in the texture of the delightfully simple Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta ($12).
My chocophobic dining companion eschews my Chocolate Caramel Tart ($12) but is dedicated in stealing segments of the great pastry shell.
The conference set will enjoy modern facilities and decent wine prices; I favoured the elegant 2006 St. Hillary Chardonnay ($8.50/glass, $43/bottle).
194 Pacific Highway, St Leonards
Ph: (02) 8436 8908