After a terrible lunch at Bread & Brew – too bad to even bother reviewing – I’d written off this glass-fronted corner café in lower Surry Hills. So complete was my dismissal, it took me months to even notice the name change to Frothy; and some extra time to shake off the negative connotations I had from the previous venue.
Once you navigate around Gladys Berejiklian’s over-time and over-budget light rail disaster, you’ll find a stark modern space with exposed hipster bulbs and a polished aggregate floor. With windows on two sides, it's more set up for people watching, than it is about internal decor.
Stripped wooden tables on old-fashioned metal stands are covered in circular burns, prompting me to order coffee. The beans are roasted by Seven Miles Coffee Roasters in Manly Vale, which is actually Belaroma Coffee rebadged and refurbished.
It has a burnt aroma in my Latte ($4) but drinks fine even if it doesn’t smell delicious. With winter rapidly encroaching, on my second visit I switch to a Hot Chocolate ($4), which was not served hot enough for my liking.
Ordering is done from a tatty menu at the shiny front counter, adorned with a good-looking collection of bought-in pastries and cakes. Next to it sits a glass cabinet full of pre-made sandwiches, and behind that, a small open kitchen where a limited amount of cooking can be done.
If you sit up the back you can see the frozen chip bag come out of the freezer for the Chicken Burger ($12) chalkboard special, though the resulting beer-battered chips are better than I expected. With smashed avocado smeared on one side of a decent bun covered melted cheese, the marinated and grilled chicken fillet burger is good enough for a workday lunch, fleshed out with enough red cabbage and baby spinach to make it feel fresh.
From the all-day breakfast menu that stops with the kitchen at 2.30pm, I give Green Eggs ($15) a whirl. It’s an avocado smash tarted up with poached eggs, rocket and pesto. It’s under-seasoned and thus a bit boring, with no salt offered on the table to correct the omission.
The staff at Frothy show a lot of personality, and, perhaps as a result, their patrons look very comfortable in their space. At one end of the thick wooden communal table a couple are intently focused on a chess board, while at the other end, it is peak-NGO with a business meeting about how to get super funds not to invest in coal. One man sits facing the coffee machine chatting to the barista as he waits for his coffee, while a second coffee buyer asks the barista how long before his next holiday? While the food at Frothy didn’t strike me as anything special, I can’t deny that this cafe has made a strong connection to the community that they serve.
441 Elizabeth Street, Surry Hills
Ph: (0420) 415 435