Don’t be hatin’ on a hipster

Local cafe Cornersmith is hipster central. I’ve lunched there a few times when I’ve felt like getting away from the office and having something different for lunch.

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I usually sit on their wooden bar stools as I love watching people in a tiny kitchen. Plus it’s so popular these days that I sometimes can’t get a table. Strangely enough, I see people at Cornersmith that I never seem to spy elsewhere in Marrickville. Where are they all when I’m stocking up at the Asian supermarket or waiting in line at the post office?

Cornersmith ticks all of the usual hipster boxes and that’s not necessarily a negative. I had a conversation with a friend about what makes things hipster-y. Just for fun, here’s a quick hitlist.

  • Fixie bikes
  • Cut-off denim shorts
  • Subway tiles
  • Decorating with found objects
  • Moustaches
  • Jam jars as drinking vessels
  • Girls wearing top knots
  • Being a fan of naff things but only ironically
  • Old school chairs/desks used as furnishings
  • Organic food
  • Disliking something because they’re mainstream/popular
  • Nerd glasses
  • Green credentials
  • Vintage granny styling

Now many of these aren’t bad in themselves at all. I wear nerd glasses and I like old school (literally) desks and chairs! My friend Suz has proclaimed that all of the furniture in my apartment is retro. Which is a huge exaggeration. I admit only to being extremely fond of my old bar trolley. And jam jars as drinking glasses? Please, the lip isn’t designed for that so it’s not comfortable. I still consider it a choice of form over function.

Generally the combination of many of the above makes something so hipster it hurts. Soon after opening, some locals didn’t appreciate Cornersmith’s vibe and the place was vandalised, with a window smashed and graffiti spraying “Yuppie scum”. The local mayor lamented about the damage to his new favourite place to get coffee. Gentrification will always be a dirty word to some people.

I was at Cornersmith again yesterday and yes, it does attract a certain crowd. But the food is just-picked fresh and simply presented on wooden plates. Dedicated to local quality produce, they have a beehive on their roof and are closed on Mondays. Not just for a service break but in order to make pickles, jams, chutneys etc. As a pickle fiend, I totally approve.

Although it doesn’t make a big difference to the Cornersmith experience, the cafe has a glossy, gorgeously dark mustard ceiling. It makes the whole place feel warmer and you can see some of it in the picture below. You also can’t miss the subway tiles that are totally hipster. Subway tiles have long been on my wishlist for my still unrealised plan to renovate my kitchen because dammit, doesn’t everyone want to feel like they’re cooking in a train station/bathroom? I vote yes.

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The sandwiches, regular ploughman and house plate change on a regular basis and are only put together once ordered. Yesterday I had the two cheese and pickle sandwich with free range ham added (cut from the bone, not that weird reformed meat). The two cheeses were a vintage ash cheddar and caraway labneh. Caraway labneh! Sorry, got over-excited.

Secretly, I eat rye bread just for the caraway flavour. I had some great rye bread, fresh out of an outdoor oven in Cologne, Germany. It was a cheek tingling, crisp winter’s day; the warm bread puffing steam over my hands and the fragant caraway seeds mingled to make it a lingering travel memory. Delicious caraway, how I love you so.

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Another sandwich available was lamb kofta with Syrian dukkah, fennel, feta and dill. The all vegetables option was baked beetroot, chilli labneh, roast eggplant and red pepper relish. Finally, there’s also a more brunch-like offering of poached egg, garlic aioli, rocket, free range ham and red pepper relish.

All the bread is sourced from Brasserie Bread which when combined with the above flavour combinations, make it very hard to get a bad sandwich.

So sure, hipsters go to Cornersmith. But don’t let that stop you from going there too.

Cornersmith
314 Illawarra Rd, Marrickville NSW
Phone: (02) 8065 0844
Open daily, until 3pm.

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