First published on 6 Aug 2010. Updated on 13 Apr 2011.
Why is this unassuming little Surry Hills café pretty much kicking the arse of every other of its ilk in town? Well, they're serving exceptional food, great juices (watermelon, lemon and mint, for example) and Single Origin coffee, and although they're a little herbal (they sling chai and serve organic soft drinks, small-estate teas and the like), they're not big posers.
Visit the open-plan café for lunch and order the pulled pork sandwich. It's a marvel, and not just because pork is the king of all meats. It's because the striations of sweet, sweet meat meld seamlessly with cooling fresh cucumber and apple spiced up with tomato chutney and slathered with aioli on dark sourdough. Coming in at photo finish is the rare roast beef number. Sweet Polish pickled cucumbers (polski ogorki), thick slices of tomato, Dijon mustard and cos lettuce with onion relish - it's a sloppy, messy, fall-apart-in-your-hands-before-it-gets-to-your-mouth affair. Tuck your napkin into your top and put another on your lap. This is a sandwich that takes commitment. Of course, you could always eat the burger instead, which comes with hand-cut chips, all nubbly and golden with their skins still on. We can't resist a good ol' fashioned chocolate milkshake, either.
Four Ate Five is the type of café we'd eat in every day. It's got brilliant food, friendly service and a pulled pork sandwich that visits us in our dreams.485 Crown St, Surry Hills 2010. (02 9698 6485).
02 The Little Marionette
This is the place other cafés should use as a template: fantastic coffee, simple food and friendly service. 18a Trafalgar St, Annandale 2038. (02 9557 8337).
03 Remy and Lee's
A little café that's about personable service, excellently made coffee and a great vibe. And you can buy a bicycle while you're there! 547 Bourke St, Surry Hills 2010. (0404 384 014).
04 bills, Darlinghurst
There are far too few Sydney cafés that offer the whole package - service, food and interiors - that bills gets so right.433 Liverpool St, Darlinghurst 2010. (02 9360 9631).
05 Moose General Store
Moose General Store sells house-made foods such as jams and granola. It's also a café serving great coffee and brunch.18 Cooper St, Redfern 2016. (02 8097 9684).
Which café won last year?