Gnome Espresso and Wine Bar is one of many cosy little cafes on Crown Street, but it caught our attention because of its cute name and the fact that it was packed to the rafters every time we walked past it. Gnome is on a corner and usually has a small queue outside it, probably because there’s limited seating inside and only a few tables outside too. Bearing all this in mind, we were pleasantly surprised when we turned up on a Sunday morning for brunch that we managed to get a table within 5 minutes as the waiter had said we would.
Inside is a small open kitchen where the chefs are pumping out all sorts of brunch dishes behind a bench, which also doubles as the coffee counter to maximise the use of the compact space that Gnome is in. They have also spruced up their interiors with some world maps around which tie into the origins of the places they source their coffee and wines from, which is a nice touch.
Large cappuccino, $4.50
We squish into our tiny table in the corner and order coffees first, which we quickly find out are served in bowls for the large cappuccinos. The boy likes the taste of fresh beans which is evident in the coffee, giving it a more earthy aroma. He and our other friend have both opted for the Ocean Trout and Avocado on Rye Sourdough Toast with dill, Persian fetta and beetroot relish for brunch. It does sound tasty and they’re feeling hungry so have asked for an extra poached egg to be added to the dish too. The kitchen was quite busy at the time we were there during the peak Sunday brunch hour and so we found that one of the dishes came out with the poached egg while the other one was missing the egg. Luckily the waitress fixed that up quickly and the boys were able to tuck into their dishes, starting with popping open the poached eggs to watch the runny yolk ooze out. By all accounts the key elements of ocean trout and avocado in the dish were both very fresh and plentiful, complimented by the flavoursome beetroot relish.
Ocean Trout, Avocado, Rye Sourdough Toast, Dill, Persian Fetta and Beetroot Relish, $12 and extra poached egg $4
I was only feeling peckish so I went for the Mini Egg Benny Roll which is basically half a conventional eggs benedict with ham sandwiched between a brioche roll. It was predictably messy to eat; as soon as I bit into the poached egg, the runny yolk dripped everywhere and almost overshadowed the tangy hollandaise sauce. The highlight of the dish for me was definitely the lovely brioche bread which was slightly crisp on the outside, with a hint of sweetness which balanced out the savoury elements of the rest of the roll.
Mini Egg Benny Roll, $8.50
We liked Gnome Espresso and Wine Bar for their fresh, clean and simple brunch offerings and I would come back another time to try a sweet breakfast next time with a coffee. As its name implies, it does double duty too by operating as a cafe during the day and a winebar on Thursday-Saturday nights so dinner and drinks here is also an option for those who prefer to head into Surry Hills after dark.
Gnome Espresso and Winebar
536 Crown Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010
Phone: (02) 9332 3191