Restaurant News

Cornersmith Annandale opens

Marrickville favourite Cornersmith opens a combined café-corner store with an alfresco sensibility.

By Maggie Scardifield
Charcoal bread with pickled eggplant, broad beans, peas and buttermilk ricotta at Cornersmith Annandale

Spring has sprung all right. Just ask Alex Elliott-Howery - who has opened a new branch of Cornersmith, Sydney's favourite all-pickling, all-upskilling, community-friendly café at a new site in Annandale in the city's inner-west.

The new café is part corner store, with a greater takeaway focus. It has all the café mod-cons for eating in, but is also set up for customers who want to grab their food and head across the road to Hinsby Park.

Elliott-Howery and her husband, James Grant, opened the original Cornersmith on Illawarra Road in Marrickville in 2012. Their Picklery, home to Cornersmith's open-kitchen "school" and shop, followed in late 2013.

The Annandale edition has a similar vibe to the mothership (and not just because it's another light-filled corner building). Set in what was once a milk bar, the new digs are almost twice the size of the first Cornersmith and have outdoor seating.

The deli section stocks Kristen Allan cheeses and yoghurt, Bread & Butter Project baked goods, charcuterie, olives and the full spread of Cornersmith pickles, preserves and chutneys. "Lots of picnic-type things and there are picnic rugs to borrow," says Elliott-Howery. "We're taking the European approach and encouraging people to buy things and take them outdoors."

The store also sells a number of Cornersmith's favourite small-scale produce to take home, including Country Valley milk from Picton, Nonie's gluten-free bread, free-range eggs sourced by Egg Lady Deliveries and Pepe Saya butter.

Chef Sabine Spindler has returned from a year's sabbatical in Europe to look after the café menu, which she says is "even more produce- and producer-focused than what we've done in the last few years", and follows the same all-day format as the original.

"They work in very low-fi conditions in Marrickville, but Annandale's full kitchen will give us more of an opportunity to push it further," says Elliott-Howery. That will equate to the kitchen getting even more creative with waste - fermenting pea shells and using the juice, for instance, and growing kefir grains for kefir butter. New menu items include the likes of pitch-black bread (made by Nonie's with activated charcoal, black quinoa and cracked buckwheat flours) topped with pickled baby eggplants, broad beans, peas and Kristen Allan's buttermilk ricotta. There's also a cheese and pickle toastie, and a pita with blackbeans, pineapple sambal and fresh goat's cheese. 

Cameron Krone of Sydney firm Smith & Carmody has designed the sleek new space (he did the other Cornersmiths, as well as Chippendale bakery Brickfields). It's inspired by the colours of the Australian bush and features a moss-green counter and leather, touches of pink marble and plenty of pale timber.

Since opening in Marrickville, Cornersmith has become a local poster-child for fermenting, pickling, minimal waste and keepings things close (the Picklery hosts classes in everything from cheese-making to turning your vegetable scraps into natural dyes).

"Annandale people are really involved in their community and proud of it, which is what we're all about," says Elliott-Howery. "We love Marrickville, but this is a new adventure for us."

Cornersmith Annandale, 88 View St (corner of Piper St), Annandale, NSW, open seven days Mon-Fri 7am-4:30pm, Sat-Sun 7.30am-4pm, cornersmith.com.au