Coffee is my comfort food and cafés are my safe haven. So having lived in Sydney my entire life and being a lover of coffee for most of that time, you’d think that I would be an expert on where to get good coffee. But alas, being a student means getting my caffeine fix around my schooling schedule, leaving me at the mercy of chain stores that are open ’til late. Hello, Gloria Jeans and Starbucks.
But my student days are behind me (for now), and I’ve suddenly found myself with more time to peruse my friend Kelly and I have been on the hunt for cafés to while away the hours in. We’re fans of good coffee, comfy seats and funky decor, and we’ve visited a string of particularly good coffee places of late; amongst them is…
Café by day and a wine bar by night, York Lane is tucked away in a narrow alley in Wynyard. I found out about this place from Corridor Kitchen, but I wouldn’t blame passersby for wanting to drop in after spying the quirky bicycle-sign on the corner of Erskine Street and York Lane (the actual lane) advertising York Lane (the café/bar).
It’s a shame that I didn’t take more photos of the decor, but it was definitely quirky and cosy. The otherwise neutral-coloured café was pleasantly accented with pops of red from milk-crate shelving and the occasional red stool. What impressed me the most was the way they made use of the small space; a lot of tiny cafés tend to squeeze in as much seating as possible, making for a cramped dining experience.
Tiny cafés usually make me a wee bit claustrophobic, and I don’t usually stay long inside them, but this was definitely not the case in York Lane. The seating was spaced out quite well, and there was even a tiny ledge for Kelly and I to rest our bags on. The lunch crowd seemed to come in short cycles — unsurprising as everyone else seemed to be business people on their lunch breaks — so the café was never over-crowded, and there wasn’t any pressure to vacate our seats quickly to make room for other customers.
The menus are charmingly handwritten, and for lunch there were a variety of tapas dishes and wine on offer. We decided on the Pumpkin, Goats’ Cheese + Sun-dried Tomato Parcels and the Haloumi + Pea Fritters with Tzatziki, skipping the wine and opting for more caffeinated beverages (which is why we were there in the first place).
Although the dishes were small, Kelly and I both walked away feeling surprisingly full. I enjoyed my mocha thoroughly, though Kelly did remark that her latte was milkier than usual — take that as you will.
The service was pretty great as well; the guy serving us was super-attentive and lovely, and we didn’t have to wait long to give our orders. Ordering food shouldn’t be a chore. A repeat visit is definitely in the books, and I’d also like to check it out at night for a few drinks. It would be interesting to see how the York Lane crowd changes when the sun goes down.