The Cross Eatery, Sydney

Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country right now: The Cross Eatery, Sydney.

Old Brillat-Savarin said that the invention of a new dish did more for human happiness than the discovery of a new star. There may be a similar magic at work with decent cafés in the Sydney CBD. Fine-diners? Ace bars? We got 'em in spades. Cafés that get the coffee right and serve good food, on the other hand, remain a precious rarity. It makes the arrival of The Cross Eatery that much more delicious. One of the prettiest cafés to have opened in the city in years, it occupies the lobby of the gorgeous Moderne building that was until recently the home of the Red Cross. Airy and drenched in light from the steel-framed windows, it could certainly get by on looks alone. But there's more than a little substance here. Owner Marcelo Soto was a barista at Mecca for years, so the caffeine situation is more than under control, and the food might be an even stronger hook still. The salads in the glass case sell for $16 for a plate of three, and they're properly decent, rich in interesting things like slivers of persimmon and shredded Brussels sprouts, dressed with care and given texture with toasted seeds and nuts. The cheese toastie with pickles is almost more like a pickle sandwich with cheese, but the mix of ricotta, Maffra cheddar and turmeric-stained pickled cauliflower and zucchini between slices of Brickfields ciabatta is more than okay in our book. Throw in a breakfast menu that runs all day, kombucha on tap (no, really) and a Radiohead-rich playlist focused on late-90s goodies and you've got your new favourite CBD pit stop sorted.

The Cross Eatery, 155 Clarence St, Sydney

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