Patience is definitely not one of my virtues. Queuing – for anything – is near impossible for me. Except if it’s for food… for food, I will queue. And that’s exactly what I find myself doing today in the Sunday sunshine, as Miss Universe and I wait for today’s menu to be passed down the long line of people that now stretches in to the white pebble garden of Kitchen by Mike.
Admittedly, we were both a little lost finding the place. Rosebery to me has only been an area of industrial estates, factory outlets and furniture warehouses and Kitchen by Mike is housed in one of those huge warehouse spaces – home of Koskela. Koskela produces Australian furniture and at their showroom in Rosebery, they also sell a range of Australian made homewares, accessories and gifts. Their business motto is, “Follow your heart, trust tour judgement, do it with joy”… I like it here already.
Over in the kitchen, headed by Michael Mcearney (a former head chef at Rockpool), the specials change daily with a focus on fresh, seasonal produce that’s served up canteen style. Apart from it being a perfect marriage between two of my great loves - furniture and food - it was Mike’s influence of Yotam Ottolenghi that really drew me here.
People continue to join the end of the queue and we’re keeping an eye out for a spot to sit. Sticking with the canteen feel, the place is filled with communal wooden tables. It’s busy but it doesn’t feel crowded, it’s an enormous space – including pebble garden and undercover area off to the side – but it still feels warm.
We’ve seen the menu, passed it on and I’ve planned my order, but as we shuffle closer to the counter, panic sets in. I catch a glimpse of all the food that’s on display (safely behind glass) and now I’m changing my mind by the second. I’m anxious. It’s one thing to read a menu to decide what to order, but I love seeing what I’m eating. It all sounds so good, but looks even better.
On my plate there’s Roast taragon chicken with aioli ($10), Cabbage slaw ($4) and Cauliflower gratin ($5.50). On Miss Universe’s plate there’s Crispy pork belly with pickled watermelon rind ($10), Sweet corn, chilli salt and lime ($3) and Roast figs, chickpeas and cumin scented onions ($7).
The chicken and coleslaw is definitely my favourite, along with the sweet corn. Everything is lovely and colourful and fresh, it’s simple and exciting to eat. If deciding what to order wasn’t so stressful, I’d eat like this every day… with a little taste of everything.
Looking past the giant board of Iggy’s bread and homemade butter, I’m watching one of the chefs make pizza… I didn’t even know there was pizza! “And a slice of pizza please”. Oh dear, am I going to need a second plate? How embarrassing.
We make it to the sweet end of the counter and I might break a sweat - I don’t know how I’m going to carry everything. I used to waitress, I can manage 3 plates…. will they do me a tray? Hmmm. A piece of the Chocolate, ricotta and citrus roulade ($7) and the Coffee cake ($7).
The coffee cake is probably a little too sweet for me but I like the simple flavours of the chocolate roulade. I’ve always wondered if I could ever roll my sponge to make the perfect cream filled log.
We find a table in the white pebble courtyard (there’s a little more shade on the verandah around the side). Young olive and citrus trees line the ornate metal fence that houses our little oasis in the car park.
Sugar cubes fill old jars, cutlery is stacked on tables in old tomato tins and my lemonade is served with a candy striped recycled paper straw. Everything that was once ‘something’, seems to have a new purpose here… I like it even more.
The last time Miss Universe and I went to lunch, it was to Bread and Circus in Alexandria and I get the same feeling from both places – they’re having fun with the best produce available. Prices aren’t cheap, but it doesn’t seem to be deterring the crowds and really, you get what you pay for.
Kitchen by Mike - 85 Dunning Avenue, Rosebery NSW 2018 – 02 9045 0910