Whole experience (cafe + coffee): 29/40
Often the finer places in Sydney don’t think about coffee that closely. You can be dining with amazing food and a stunning wine list, with even local craft beers on the menu, but low and behold, when it comes to coffee you’re left with something you would pass on the street or could do yourself. This morning finds me at Ripples Café, with my dad, for a late breakfast or an early lunch, not sure which really, now I think about it, so take your choice.
Ripples, is more traditionally known as a destination for a fancier lunch then a casual breakfast (due to its stunning position, prices, and staff) however, I think is an example of the direction which Sydney dining has moved in recent times, slowly away from that fine dining experience and more towards the great culinary experience without the ponciness (although prices are still high!). This is great, as it's opening up so many new places.
Ripples is not really a café you can just drop by due to its local popularity, however, with a bit of luck and making a move early or late, this is totally possible scenario. My dad and I to score a table called up an hour earlier. It was the weather which was on our side however.
Ripples is all about that casual-formal dining experience like I was saying above. It’s the kind of place you sit down, have a menu placed in front of you, have people address you nicely, you pick your entrées and mains and drink beer and wine whilst admiring the harbour. It’s Sydney at its best, certainly my initial thought was how could I not rate this place?
The meal progressed much as you would expect, matching the amazing view it was a really tasty mix of seafood and contempory dishes to graze over.
During the meal, I took some time to take in my fellow dinners. It was really celebrations all round today, a large but very civil birthday was being celebrated and mixing it with these festive diners were Kirribilli locals in thongs and tee shirts, having their lattes while admiring the view.
So this is where it gets interesting (at least for the inner coffee nerds reading along). After a fantastic meal, we ordered coffee and a dessert (hey why not!). I went long black, dad a flat white. Service was pleasant, and prompt and asked whether we wanted the coffees after or during dessert. We went with, during.
The coffee on arrival looked rather pleasant. There was a great looking golden crema to the drink - you could see tendrils of steam gently floating off it into the room, and it was presented in a spotless white china cup. Heat, as far as you’d want to judge with a long black, seemed right on the mark, and dragging a spoon through the crema did not distress it to significantly.
It was here, however, where things went somewhat pear shaped. The aroma of the coffee came across as rather limited – there was a now quite a distinctive, fruity come chocolate come roasted aroma, that actually sounds better written than it smells – it was, I believe, a Vittoria roast.
Taking a few slurps confirmed this fear. Why oh why would a great café do this? To be fair, they did wonders with the roast, it maintained it’s well known flavour base to a T and followed through with a heavily roasted fruity, chocolate flavours. However, after starting on the dessert, my pallet was messed up and even a below average coffee, which has chocolate notes would have come out ok.
Overall, I find it funny that I’m able to have such a positive and negative experience at once. I love the café for its food, polite and fast service and great location. It’s got a nice wine list, comfortable seating and if I had more money in the bank would love to have it as a local. However, the coffee roast choice, no matter how good the barista will always be limited by a mass produced bean. In a time where Sydney eating culture has becomes more casual, yet far more boutique, why not make the effort with your bean? You've done it with everything else!
1. Coffee score
Style (look and feel): 8/10
Experience (taste and smell): 6/10
Coffee total: 14/20
2. Cafe score
Style (what’s it feel like): one of the world's best located cafes
Whole experience (coffee + cafe): 29/40
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