Forest Lodge in Sydney is the perfect testing ground for new cafes.
A blend of young, vibrant families, students and white-collar workers provides a thorough demographic for food hubs to experiment with new flavours and embellish old favourites.
It bears little surprise, then, that the Tramsheds at Harold Park has done exceptionally well since opening in 2016. The former Rozelle Tram Depot, which operated from 1904 to 1958, has been completely refurbished into a modern, Instagram-friendly, European-style food hall.
The Tramsheds offers a unique style of dining – one which will no doubt be adopted by other aspiring warehouse renovators in the future. The pristine premises have flower beds in bicycles at every corner, huge beams supporting a corrugated skyroof, and a melange of smells from every cuisine under the sun.
This food hall-esque eating adventure has been seen in other capital cities before now – Canberra boasts The Hamlet, a seemingly hastily designed plaza made out of repurposed caravans and pimped-out food trucks – but the Tramsheds echoes both the style and the popularity of this space, and for casual dining, you are spoilt for choice.
Tucked in between Gelato Messina and beneath the huge entryway sign lies an eatery with an enticing open-faced proscenium. Garçon, the brainchild of the Little Marionette coffee team, has enticed customers since opening at the Tramsheds six months ago, with a solid brunch menu and an ever-changing specials board. Dubbing itself as a “coffee-centric espresso and wine bar”, Garçon offers a laid-back vibe reminiscent of its French-Australian fusion. It seems to look on you favourably whether you choose a latte or a lager with your breakfast.
The owner Phil greets everyone with an infectious smile, and despite the packed nature of the cafe, is cool as a cucumber. For what it’s worth, the coffee here is excellent. Your correspondent found it comforting to know that a nutty, rich, gently made cappuccino could exist west of Surry Hills. The specials page taps ingredients such as salmon nicoise and oxheart tomatoes, plus a salad of jamón, feta and fig that is as delicate and refreshing as it is packed with flavour. The crushed almonds are the real highlight of the dish, bringing together the almost pickle-sweetness of the figs and the bite of the feta with little to-do.
The menu’s sweet fusion of Franco-Australian cuisine is heavy on the cheese and charcuterie. Diners can enjoy a cut of Jamón Serrano Duroc – a deliciously salty slice from the Duroc pig – or opt for something quite different like the chorizo and mojo verde bao.
The name Garçon stems from the wealthy Frenchman’s call to the waiter: “Garçon! [Boy!]”. At Garçon the restaurant, no yelling is required; all the servers are quick and exceptionally polite. Coffees were brought out before I’d even finished my order, and plates cleared at the final bite. The broad and well-stocked array of liquor is tempting (even at midday on a Sunday) and the drinks menu, featuring a tiramisu cocktail and a blend of French and South Australian vintages, is ripe for the traditionalist and the after-dinner enthusiast.
Garçon at the Tramsheds promises to be “the premier coffee venue at Tramsheds” and “an institution in Sydney”. Granted, this is a high bar, but very reasonable for an establishment that blends the atmosphere of a casual Sunday morning brunch and a sophisticated pre-dinner drink.
PRICE PER MAIN