The newly opened La Cantina at St Leonards is likely to become a firm favourite for locals, with light and airy interiors, excellent coffee, and a varied lunch and breakfast menu uniformed across three venues in Sydney.
With three other cafes across the CBD and North Sydney, owner Richard Saliba knows exactly what he’s doing. For the latest St Leonards incarnation, he has drawn inspiration from Melbourne’s cafe culture after a number of trips to the city, and that inspiration is evident in the design of the new cafe, which looks like an underground bunker from the outside but is bright and welcoming inside, featuring timber accents, hanging greenery, and a monochrome theme extending to the black and white mural across one wall.
An small outdoor courtyard area is also available for those looking for some fresh air, nestled off the street and marked with rustic stencilled timber signs.
Coffee connoisseurs will relish the Will & Co coffee available, an “Eight-o-Eight” Blend with 100% Arabica beans from Guatemala and Brazil ($4), but non-coffee drinkers will be pleased to find a large range of French hand-crafted teas on the menu, courtesy of La Maison Du Thé. Among the standard English Breakfast and Earl Grey, there are a number of herbal options, including a lemon and ginger, and a darjeeling ripe fruits (all $4.70).
The breakfast menu is extensive and caters to a range of different tastes. The usual suspects are present, from a french toast ($15) topped with fresh strawberries and maple syrup to the classic bacon and egg roll ($12) with two fried eggs on a toasted panini with homemade tomato relish.
Unusually, La Cantina also offers a vegetarian version of the bacon and egg roll, for those looking for something a little different. The vegetarian breakfast roll ($12) includes sautéed mushrooms, wilted spinach and scrambled eggs on a toasted panini with tomato relish.
A standout dish is the sweetcorn fritters bruschetta ($18), which takes the standard brunch fare of corn fritters and eggs to a new level. The home-made sweetcorn and zucchini fritters are paired with tender smoked salmon, avocado and perfectly poached free-range eggs, which flow across the plate when sliced open.
For those with big appetites, the lacantina omelette ($17.5) is a must try. The silky smooth omelette is bursting with fresh tomato, sautéed garlicky mushrooms, double smoked ham, wilted spinach and loads of cheddar cheese, served with a dark rye sourdough.
There are also a range of breakfast stacks and bruschetta options, such as the salmon and avocado stack ($17.50), with poached free range eggs and a creamy blend of smashed avocado and fetta, and a parmesan egg bruschetta ($17) with scrambled eggs infused with parmesan and topped with sautéed mushrooms, lemon thyme and wilted rocket on rye sourdough.
For those looking for something light to go with their take away coffee, there’s a delightful range of ‘Something Sweet’, including freshly baked muffins, banana bread and freshly baked friands. The friands are the perfect light accompaniment to the strong Will & Co espresso – bursting with fruit and with a melt-in-the-mouth texture.
A short walk from St Leonards train station, La Cantina is a great addition to the area, and is already packed with locals on the weekend. It’s open for lunch as well, with a range of burgers, salads, pasta and pizette.
La Cantina St Leonards
Address: 6/16 Atchison St, St Leonards
Contact: (02) 9460 8008
Opening Hours: Monday-Thursday 6am-5pm; Friday 6am-4pm; Saturday 7am-3pm
Photos supplied and used with permission.