The dangling orange cube is what will clue you in to the exact location of Qube on Bay. With prison grey walls and outside tables behind a high metal gate, it otherwise dissolves into the high-density urban backdrop.
Despite the box-like surrounds and concrete floor, the interior of the café has a surprising warmth. It’s created using a mismatched blend of farmhouse rustic and modern, geometric patterned furniture, splashes of bright primary colours, and glass vases holding Australian natives. The lack of coherent design makes it feel like somewhere you could easily hang out and chill.
With cold drip apparatus on the table, and shelves of Coffee Supreme beans, it’s clear that coffee is a large focus. I give the Brazilian beans a whirl in Cold Drip ($5).
Presented in a small bottle on a wooden board, it’s an easy-drinking version of this energy-inducing drink.
With the weather warm on the day we dined, my young dining companion opts for the Egyptian Iced Tea ($7) and is duly impressed with the fancy crystal decanter and glasses offering up edible blooms and two different styles of ice (curiously, despite the café’s name, neither are what I’d call a cube). Red from hibiscus flowers, the tea is refreshing and not overly sweet.
My dining companion is slightly less impressed with her first experience of carambola or starfruit, on the beautifully presented Qube Granola ($17): “I’ve never had one before; they just taste like bland apple.” While in this particular case I agree with her analysis, in other countries I’ve enjoyed starfruit and found it to have more flavour. Overall, the collection of yuzu macerated exotic fruits on this dish, which also includes figs and dragonfruit, is impressive. It does eat on the sweet side, with the crunchy house-made granola dominated by yuzu curd, rose-infused chia seed pudding and pandan curd, but it keeps my spoon returning.
The Qube Bibim Rice Bowl ($18) made me happy. Brown rice is decorated with an attractively arranged mix of smoked tofu, purple cabbage, kimchi, fried egg, gochujang (Korean chilli sauce), lime green edamame, shitake mushrooms, English spinach, bean sprouts and nori. It’s bound together with a soy and sesame dressing, and while you can add more protein in the form of Smoked Salmon ($4), it didn't really bring anything extra to the dish. Just be sure to give your rice bowl a solid mix before eating.
With Broadway Shopping Centre just a few doors up the road, put Qube on Bay in your head for the next time you’re shopping whilst hangry and need to escape the maddening crowd.
Qube on Bay
56 Bay Street, Ultimo
Ph: (02) 9212 0025