Roadside fruit stalls have become something of a rarity in the Sydney metropolitan area, so it was a delight to encounter not one but three on my journey to The Wren in Dural.
After inspecting the orderly rows of boxed stone fruit and ripe, growing figs, it was a pleasure to see some of these locally grown ingredients make their way onto the cafe's menu.
The Wren is a relative newcomer to the Hills District, having been opened by locals Reuben and Amelia Barthow in August 2017. With varying shades of blue, the Scandinavian inspired interior both references the colour of the namesake bird, and provides cool, calm respite from the hot, still day.
The curved lines of the white moulded plastic seats with their blonde wood frames are repeated in the shape of the branded coffee machine. Cloud art in deepening shades of blue graces one wall, while on the other mirrors stationed over a brown leather banquette serve to open out the compact space.
Overhead there’s more wood with a golden inlay replicating the stylish counter design. The tables are adorned with earthenware blue Maldon salt, pepper and raw sugar containers; and the staff are clad in faded blue denim aprons.
By the time your curved tumbler of Green Juice ($7) lands, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re in Denmark. With apple, pear, mint, Kale and coconut water, this healthy juice is a definite winner, arriving at the table cool from the welcome addition of ice. Garnished with chocolate covered honeycomb, my dining companion’s Caramel Milkshake ($7) is simple, frothy, and indulgent.
There's also coffee from Alexandria-based specialty roaster Mecca, and more surprising, a couple of breakfast-friendly cocktails, with one featuring Sydney gin standout, Archie Rose. If you're dining later in the day, you'll also find a small but inviting selection of wines that include the Torbrek Woodcutters Rose ($12/glass) and Pol Roger NV Brut ($19/glass).
We kick off with an eye-catching Mushroom Duxelle ($17), which here is taken to mean whole (rather than minced) mushrooms sautéed with garlic and parsley, served on lightly charred sourdough. Micro herbs, edible flowers and cherry tomatoes brighten up the plate while shaved Pecorino cheese, walnut dressing and a drizzle of white truffle oil help to give this vegetarian dish a satisfying, savoury centre.
While I’m not sure what makes the Korean Fried Chicken Burger ($18) ‘Korean’ – being that it is adorned with apple ‘slaw, chilli mayo. and aged Cheddar cheese – I am sure that it was delicious!
An intriguing turmeric-based chicken marinade done before the chook is battered and fried, really adds to the burger’s flavor. Sandwiched between soft milk buns, this burger eats a fraction sweetly from the mayo. and apple ‘slaw, but that’s nothing some sriracha can’t fix. Friendly staff brought some out immediately upon request. Presented here with fries on the side, portions here are adequate, with most dishes coming with optional add-ons in case you are hungry.
While the Italian term crostini literally means little crusts, The Wren's Grilled Haloumi Crostini ($19) is served on a slice of toast. The nicely cross-hatched cheese is topped with a grilled poached peach that’s to die for. The promised arugula (rocket) and strawberry salad turns out to be mixed leaves, but who wants to stand on terminology when the marinated strawberries are so red and perfectly ripe? Scattered with seeds and drizzled with Beechworth honey, this plate is a feast for all of your senses. If this is what café food tastes like when you live on Sydney’s outskirts amongst our remaining market gardens, I’m inclined to make the trip out this way much more often!
Shop 5/22-24 Kenthurst Road, Dural
Ph: (02) 8919 4680