9 Grams

 

Those of you who read my recent review of Southside in Newtown will know that it has become my highest rating cafe in the region. Today’s cafe is 9 Grams which is situated two doors north of Southside. If I am going to go to the trouble of driving to 343 Pakington Street, 9 Grams is going to have to be really, really good to coax me away from my new fave.

9 Grams is situated on a corner which gives it two walls of natural light with windows that open onto Pakington Street. You would describe the interior decor as trendy with concrete floor and modern furniture. If anything, I found the tables a bit close together which meant, with the cafe more than half full, the noise level was quite high, making it difficult to hold a conversation with the person I was drinking coffee with. Not an ideal place to go during coffee peak times if you want to get some quiet work done.

The food selection is quite varied which means that if you were to go there for breakfast or lunch, there would be something for everyone, regardless of their particular eating preferences.

I found that the coffee was well-made and better than average – and that is reflected in my rating below. But, will it be enough to drag me two doors north of a regular basis? Unfortunately, I have to be honest and say that I prefer both the coffee and environment at Southside but that’s not to say that you might find that you have a different preference. What it does mean is that there are two very good options available to you within a few metres of each other – that has major implications for parking on weekends and first thing in the morning. Factor that into your planning, won’t you.

PS: One thing I really did like about 9 Grams is that they charge less for black coffee – it has always puzzled me why cafes charge the same amount for coffee made with milk as coffee made without. The cost of milk must surely be factored into the price of milk-based coffees, mustn’t it?
 

Address: Shop 1, 343 Pakington Street
Suburb: Newtown 3220
Web Site: www.9gramscafe.com.au
Telephone: 03 5222 2716
Open: Seven days per week
Price: $3.20 – $3.80
Coffee Suppliers: Veneziano
Headline: Coffee was certainly better than average. I found the cafe too noisy for a quiet cup of coffee.
Coffee Rating: Four stars
Stick-Around Factor: Three and a half stars

For an explanation of “Stick-Around Factor”, click here or on the heading.

Southside

 

Whenever a new cafe arrives in an area like Newtown’s coffee strip, it is very much a case of “only the strong will survive” and so it was with great interest that I visited Southside this morning.

The cafe is quite large with a lot of indoor space, a couple of reasonably sizeable tables out the front (yes, you can bring the dog) and an area in the front window, best described as inside/outside – inside the cafe but with an open wall to the street. I chose this indoor/outdoor zone before even entering Southside.

As I entered, I spotted a very familiar face behind the coffee machine – Greg, formerly the owner of the now-closed 10 sq M that used to be located in an arcade off Ryrie Street. This was a good start. And then I noticed that Southside have made the very excellent decision to use Sensory Lab coffee. Another big tick. I was shown to my table and my order was taken by someone sporting what appeared to be a genuine smile. Tick again. Finally, when my coffee and my breakfast were delivered, they were as good, if not slightly better than what I had expected! Tick overload! Seriously, I was almost on the verge of a five-star rating – certainly better than the 4.5’s I have so far allocated.

And so, the new 4.75 category was born in very pleasant circumstances, I must say.

Southside is the brain child of Jason and Belinda who formerly operated Burger Inc. further up Pakington Street and their experience both in running a business and knowing what rings the bells of the Newtown locals is very evident.

This is one that you absolutely must get on your bucket list. Scrub that – make it your tulip cup list!

 

Address: Shop 4, 343 Pakington Street
Suburb: Newtown 3220
Web Site: www.southsidestore.com.au
Telephone: 03 5221 3967
Open: Seven days per week
Price: $4.00
Coffee Suppliers: Sensory Lab
Headline: Steadfastly refusing to hand out a 5-star rating unless it is an absolutely world-shatteringly good, I’m giving out the first in a new category – the 4.75 star!
Coffee Rating: foursevenfive

Lola’s Kitchen

 

This is the second incarnation of the cafe at the Boom Gallery in the funky river-end precinct off Pakington Street. The previous cafe Dirty Rascal has been replaced by Lola’s Kitchen and on today’s effort, that’s a little disappointing. The venue is pretty much the same as it was (maybe slightly larger due to a realignment of the counter) but there was a fair gap between the four and a half star coffee I had when I was there last time and today’s. Today’s was served in an unusual shaped cup – similar to a cappuccino cup from a volume perspective but the traditional shape – and as is often the case, this led to a broken crema and a coffee that cooled down too quickly. The crema covered around half of the top surface, which is really disappointing.

The flavour wasn’t bad by any means but it just wasn’t what I had expected when I met a business associate there, still expecting to find the previous, excellent, 4.5 star standard of coffee that was served back in June 2015.

 

Address: 11 Rutland Street
Suburb: Newtown 3220
Web Site: www.boomgallery.com.au/about/cafe/
Telephone: 0448 950 784
Open: Six days per week (closed Sundays)
Price: $4.00
Coffee Suppliers: Unknown
Headline: A satisfactory coffee in a really good location. Great opportunity to grab a coffee before or after a visit to the various exhibits in the Boom Gallery.
Coffee Rating: Three and a half stars

Pakington Fare

 

Pakington Fare has only recently opened its doors in the location that used to house Soft’s Newtown cafe. The location had been closed with renovations taking place for a number of weeks and so I was a little surprised to find that the layout of the cafe doesn’t seem to be that much different to before.

The coffee was served in a tulip-like cup but with about a centimetre of more of the capacity unused. It is good to see that they have chosen not to just fill the cup with hot water but it looked a little underdone with so much of the cup unfilled.

Another surprise was the fact that when I ordered a long black for me and a piccolo latte for my drinking companion, there was a differential in price – but not as you would expect. When there is a difference in price under normal circumstances, it is the milk coffee that is more expensive to reflect the fact that milk costs more than water. At Pakington Fare, I was charged $3.00 for the piccolo and $4.00 for the long black. Either the attendant mixed the prices up or that is a first in my experience.

When the coffee arrived, the cup had coffee spilled on the side of the cup which always disappoints me. There can only be two explanations – the cup has not been washed properly from the previous customer (yuk) or the coffee has been spilt since being made (clumsy, particularly given that the cup was only 70% full). A quick look at the side of the cup before presenting to the customer and rectifying any spill is simple and will demonstrate better levels of quality control – which always makes this customer feel much better about their coffee.

PS: I’m going to leave you with this – “are you going to Pakington Fare, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme” – I’ll bet you think of that Simon & Garfunkel song in your head right now 🙂

 

Address: 327 Pakington Street
Suburb: Newtown 3220
Web Site: Not available
Telephone: Not available
Open: Seven days per week
Price: $4.00
Coffee Suppliers: Unknown
Headline: A brand new cafe right in the heart of Newtown’s main collection of cafes. Coffee tasted good, presentation cost them half a star.
Coffee Rating: Three and a half stars

Pakington Pantry

 

Pakington Pantry is one of three cafes quite close to each other – Winters Cafe and The Newtown Provedore being the others – that each provide a quite different coffee experience. The Pakington Pantry has probably the smallest floor space of the three but, from what I have seen on this visit and others, similar levels of custom. As a result, particularly at peak times, you may have to wait to get a seat. Whilst annoying if you are in a hurry, this usually tells you that the coffee and/or food is pretty good – who is going to wait for a poor experience?

My coffee was served in the correct type of cup and, whilst the tide appeared to be out a little (i.e. the cup wasn’t completely full), the crema was thick and rich and the coffee full of flavour. My only specific concern was that the flavour was a little “harsher” than what I would prefer but all in all a very tasty coffee.

Just as a footnote, whilst I didn’t eat on this occasion, the menu at the Pakington Pantry is well worth a look. That said, if you are thinking of going in for a meal, allow yourself a bit of extra time in case there’s a crowd.

 

Address: 3/328 Pakington Street
Suburb: Newtown 3220
Web Site: www.pakingtonpantry.com.au
Telephone: 03 5223 3232
Open: Seven days per week
Price: $3.20
Coffee Suppliers: Ducale
Headline: All in all, a good cup of coffee. Right cup, good crema and strong flavour. A little “harsher” than I would have liked but still a very good flavour.
Coffee Rating: Four stars