As the rest of Sydney pushes outwards, edgy inner-west suburbs such as Redfern, Marrickville and Chippendale are increasing in desirability. Places with smarts and attitude are opening their doors, sweeping out the hypodermic needles and serving a growing community of young professionals, artists and start-up families pushing all-terrain prams. The gentrification of Redfern isn’t a new thing – overpriced vintage furniture shops have raped the wallets of moneyed hipsters for years – but the opening of great cafés, restaurants and bars is very recent. Baffi and Mo started the trend a few years back, followed by Eathouse Diner. Dry Land Bar is soon to open just down from FBi Radio and, of course, there’s the Fern.
It occupies an old terrace near the Woolpack Hotel and Eathouse Diner. There's white-painted garden furniture out the front, a big communal table taking centrestage inside and booths out the back. Sydney bar legends Julian Serna and Mark Wiley own and run the joint and chef Massimo Bianchi has consulted on the menu (though as this goes to press chef Ariel Copland has taken over the burners). And while the regular all-day menu is more about burgers and club sandwiches (this one has chopped egg on it!), the lunch and dinner menu has more of an Italian bent.
Pork sausages come on a bed of Pugliese style broccoli-chilli mash while slices of 'nduja, that spicy Calabrian pork paste we've come to know and love over the past few years, are served with toasted sourdough and fresh ricotta. Yes, you'll find corn fritters with avocado, goat's cheese and salsa on the all-day menu - no Sydney café menu would be complete without them. And who can resist dessert breakfast? Not us, that's for sure. Especially when it's buttermilk pancakes with caramelised bananas and maple syrup.
The coffee is from Melbourne company Gravity – you can taste the Richmond in every cup. And it's likely you'll have a few, too – it's good stuff, from barista Mark Large who, before leaving bartending to pull coffees, shook the cans at Café Pacifico. Never fear: none of these guys have really left the dark side. The Fern has just gotten a liquor licence and is offering aperitivi on Thursdays and Fridays. You take the the man out of the bar...