On the recommendation of a friend, we headed over to Walsh Bay where a row of cafes and restaurants sit right behind the wharves. It’s hard to get to by public transport, but trust me when I say it’s worth it. We hadn’t really done much research on Cafe Sopra before we went so we were pleasantly surprised to see that it was a SMH Good Food Guide one-hatted restaurant.
It is an unpretentious cafe, sharing the space with the Fratelli Fresh deli on the other side of the warehouse-like shop. There is no food menu on paper, instead all the dishes are scribbled onto huge blackboards placed all around the cafe – it gets a bit confusing but we finally settle on the crisp polenta (recommended by the friend) and a risotto milanese as well as a cappuccino.
The cappuccino comes first and is quality coffee according to the boy, we also take a look around and see that the wall next to us is a tall shelving system with lots of wine bottles neatly displayed but apart from this, there hasn’t been much fuss made with the decor of the place.
Our lunch comes out and the polenta is impressive, with slices of it stacked up high with melted gorgonzola cheese oozing all over it while the risotto is decidedly less appealing, it just looked like a pile of soggy rice on a plate. But appearances can be deceiving, the risotto turned out to be intensely flavoursome despite its lack of meat. It had been cooked in hearty beef stock and had hints of saffron (a bit of a metallic tangy flavour) in it, which is apparently Milanese style as the name of the dish suggests.
Risotto Milanese $20
The crunchy polenta was a masterpiece of textures, with the crisp exterior resembling a fish finger whereas the innards were soft and mushy. Polenta is made from cornmeal but it tasted more like regular potatoes to me and went very well with the smooth creamy gorgonzola cheese sauce, spinach leaves and fresh mushroom which soaked up all the flavour.
Crisp polenta $22
We were very full and satisfied after our carb heavy meal and will be passing on the recommendation to people wanting to try some authentic Italian dishes outside the conventional pizza and pasta usually served in Italian restaurants. It was a bit of a hassle to get the waitress’ attention to order and to pay the bill but otherwise, great spot for lunch and fantastic location for working off your food with a stroll to and from the cafe in one of the most pictureseque areas of Sydney.
Shop 8, 16 Hickson Rd
Walsh Bay NSW 2000
Ph: (02) 8243 2700