As one of 40 restaurant critics to contribute to the SMH Good Food Guide, Carla Grossetti loves to sing from the rooftops about places near her postcode. This is part two of a post that featured eight hot spots that made the cut in the Sutherland Shire for the 2016 edition.
Croydon Lane Wine & Tapas
When Croydon Lane popped up in the pedestrianized part of Cronulla Plaza it loomed like an oasis. This lovely, warmly lit local gem remains a great grown-up place to go to graze on Mediterranean-inflected tapas and share plates. Start with wagyu sliders or pancetta-wrapped bug tail with slaw before moving onto more sizeable options such as pork belly of the day or salad of chargrilled squid, chorizo, cous cous, dates, almonds and olives. Complement the food with an impressive house selection of cocktails, craft beers and great global wines. Husband-and-wife team Johnny and Cindy Rechichi and business partner Leonard Davis have also opened La Fresca, a casual Italian offshoot next door.
Shop 8, 30 Kingsway, Cronulla, 0434 742 265, facebook.com/CroydonLaneWineAndTapasBar
Caff-iends from outside the Shire know that a stop-off at Grind Espresso Bar is obligatory when visiting Cronulla. Since moving to the ‘burb a decade ago, I’ve seen this cafe evolve from a shoebox-sized space on the Kingsway to a local institution. Owner Richard Calabro redefined the café template when he expanded to this sophisticated space decorated with antique coffee pots, vintage carafes and musical instruments. The walls of this convivial café are also lined with photographs of customers from around the world bearing “I’d Rather be at Grind” banners. Add a tightly edited menu of treats, dinky repurposed Nanna lounges and a sleek coffee machine and – of course – slugs of great coffee and what you have is not just one of the best cafes in Cronulla – it’s one of the best in the country.
4/15 Surf Rd, Cronulla, 0403 844 533, Grind Espresso
The Old Library
What once was a church built in 1908, later became a library and community hall before it was transformed into this breezy restaurant and bar. When the space is not being colonized for functions and private parties, scenesters should secure a seat at the window or up the back at the bar. Nods to the building’s old bones abound with the wine list in the form of a book and the space decked out like a den: think ceramic deer heads, painted-on library shelves and reading lamps. Start with spuntini – oysters and aperitivos, vegetarian antipasti, swordfish carpaccio – and follow up with primi of calamari fritti, aioli and gremolata. Note: The Old Library also hosts regular comedy nights.
15 Surf Rd, Cronulla, 9544 5360, theoldlibrary.com.au
Pilgrim’s won hearts in Cronulla from the get-go when it gave some love to a tired old Art Deco building and transformed it into an enchanting place to eat. Pilgrim’s is also legendary in vegetarian circles down the South Coast thanks to the chefs who love to carve up phenomenal vegetarian dishes in good-sized portions. It helps that the service is friendly, it’s more bona fide boho than Om Shanti chic and there are so many creative vegan and vegetarian options (Millenium burger anyone?) that carnivores are kept happy, too. The Meat-free Mexican nights are also a must from Thursday-Saturday, from 6pm. Licensed for wine only.
97 Gerrale St, Cronulla, 02 9523 7580, pilgrimsmenu.com
Read part 1 – The Shire food scene at its finest
To read more of Carla Grossetti’s articles, visit www.carlagrossetti.com
The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide 2016 is available from participating newsagents and supermarkets while stocks last. It can also be purchased in selected book shops and online at smhshop.com.au/smhgfg2016 for $24.99