The Porch and Parlour journey started with Sarah Hendriks and Sam Smith. Sam has honed his skills at many reputable establishments including Duende and Balthazar in Perth and Soda in Bondi Beach. He was head chef at Faraway Bay eco resort in Western Australia where catching and foraging for dish elements gave him an appreciation for fresh produce but also afforded him experience in logistics, running a “kitchen in a restaurant only accessible by plane and helicopter.”
Sarah and Sam opened the retail store (the Parlour), gallery and café (the Porch) in 2010 about a block from its current location. Three years later in 2012, once Sarah and Sam were satisfied with the brand’s success, they searched for a more prominent shopfront with a larger kitchen and enough space for evening events. At that point, Alexander Relic, a powerhouse in the bar industry with local and international management experience as well as running training courses, joined to be become the third business partner.
Get to Porch and Parlour early! That’s the first thing you’ll need to know before visiting. The crowd here gathers well before 9am and puts the waiting list of other cafés to shame. Had I not been visiting to review (nor had P&P been recommended to me so many times), I would not have forced myself to endure the 20 minute wait. They’re open very early (6:30am to 4pm Monday to Tuesday and 6:30am to 10pm Wednesday to Sunday) so set your alarm clock!
Wait we did though and while we were initially seated on a bench with a minute table inbetween us, when a nearby larger table opened up, we snagged the opportunity (after checking the waitstaff). Service was on the ball today. Not only were there enough people serving but they did it with professionalism and a smile. It’s quite cosy inside and it can get loud but on beautiful days, the windows are opened and a lot of the noise escapes. Overall, a comfortable and snug location with some counter window seats that offer a great people-watching perch (Porch, Perch and Parlour?)!
The interior design has been a collaborative effort between Sarah, Sam and Alex with friends and family pitching in where their relevant expertise could be applied. All of the timber furniture as well as the concrete tops of the main bar were built by this close-knit group and they utilised timber sourced from Ironwood in Rozelle which is in fact old form work from the building of the Sydney Harbour Bridge!
Will & Co. Enough said? Well just in case it’s not… the coffee ($4) impressed as expected. Whenever I visit a W&C establishment, I know that I’m at least going to enjoy the beverages if nothing else. Not a hint of bitterness, but instead malty tones of caffeine bliss.
Sam and Rich Coombes, the owners of Will and Co. are actually close friends of Sarah and Sam so there was only one choice since the beginning (at which point the label was named The Critical Slide Society).
If tea is the way you lean, then you would more be interested in the Tea Lady Teas ($4.50) from Byron Bay including green tea tonic, summer bird, liquorice star, English breakfast, Earl Grey and emerald zing. Chai loose leaf ($4.50) or chai latte ($4) is also available.
Dairy free smoothies ($9) offer a fresh kick-start to your day. I ordered the pineapple, apple and mint version and it came with flavour blasts of all three ingredients. Ice cold and with a bit more mint than I would have liked (however my guest disagreed and loved the amount of mint), I can definitely give P&P smoothies the thumbs up. The two that I didn’t try are the green smoothie (mango, banana, spinach and rice milk) and the mango, coconut and chia seed (frozen mango, coconut water and flesh and chia seeds).
The devil’s breakfast ($22). What an apt name and stunning breakfast dish. Gorgeous red tones and flavours that make no apologies for the bold flavours. The star for me was the bean molé, a tomato-based, herb and paprika spiced lava pit. I would change it slightly by adding a decent amount of fresh chillis (and will request this the next time I visit). That’s not all though. On the opposite side of the pan, you’ll find pork belly with its signature crispy yet tender properties. The two perfectly soft boiled eggs receive the red treatment with paprika and dried chilli while roasted sweet potato edges us towards a sweeter flavour.
There really isn’t much to the porched eggs ($12.50 and available until 2:45pm) but the soft boiled eggs were cooked perfectly and rolled in fresh herbs and served with avocado and toast. I added sides of grilled ocean trout ($7) and cherry tomatoes & basil ($4.50) which once again were cooked and seasoned simply but with skill.
Other recommended items from the menu include green pea pancake with porched egg, avocado, feta and mint salad ($17), the woodsman (pan fried mushrooms with thyme & rosemary, chestnuts & ricotta on toasted sourdough, $16) and one hander (bacon & egg roll with scrambled egg, cheese, onion jam and aioli, $12).
Sweet things more your thing? How about french toast (toasted cinnamon bun with marscapone & fresh berries, $17) or bircher muesli (soaked oats, banana, cinnamon, vanilla, pepitas, maple syrup, strawberries and dehydrated fruit, $15). Sam’s partner Fran MacMillan also freshly prepares all of the raw slices, banana bread, polenta stea cakes, bluten free brownies and energy bars.
Expect to see some menu changes with summer around the corner as well as some surprises from Alex and the crew behind the bar. I don’t see the quality of service or food slipping any time soon and with such consistency, Porch and Parlour will be a Bondi force for while!
Overall Rating: 20/25
Payment Options: Credit cards, EFTPOS, cash