It's all happening in the Cross at the moment. Whether you like it or not, the red light district's brothels and stripclubs are being overtaken by restaurants and cafés. That gloriously sleazy drinking spot Baron's (RIP) will soon reopen as Blanco – a mediterranean restaurant run by the Woollahra Hotel Group. Meanwhile, around the corner on Ward Avenue - the street where sailors' residences and brothels once reigned supreme - there's now an outstanding café called Number 9.
Expect something in between an English gentlemen's club (their club sandwich is a must) and a Sydney café (their breakfasts are the bomb). Speaking of which, turn up for breakfast and be served some of the best pancakes in town: served with thick cream and rose-honey syrup, they have crisp edges while remaining soft and fluffy in the middle. Or order the perfectly seasoned, buttery scrambled eggs on toast.
The tiny little room seats around 20 inside; there are two dinky little tables upstairs where you can peer over the Juliet balcony. On a sunny morning for breakfast be sure to grab a seat outside. The fresh-squeezed orange juice is a winner, but we're loving the house-made lemonade with lavender syrup. They pull a mean espresso here, but if you're not a coffee drinker they also serve an extremely medicinal sage tea.
For lunch, try that club sandwich – it's three layers of sandwich heaven. There's even a well-dressed mini salad on the side (an edible garnish! Who knew?) For something a little heartier try the shepherd's pie with tomato relish, or poached salmon served with a little pile of potato salad.
Whatever you do, don't miss the pineapple upside down cake – it's moist, syrupy and sweet with hunks of pineapple woven throughout. Or go simple with the pear and almond financier (similar to what we call friands in Australia). If you're feeling particularly deserving of treats, the chocolate fondant incredibly rich, glossy and gooey.
Number 9 is a small, unassuming space, but it's an excellent café serving great food in one of Sydney's most interesting areas.