There's no need to break out the home jaffle iron: Sydney's restaurants and cafés have seen the light and put cheese to bread in some very creative ways. Call them what you like, the fact remains: there's little better comfort food than a golden pocket of bread encasing molten cheese. These are the best toasties and jaffles in Sydney.
Ms G’s chef Dan Hong has been known to put all kinds of things inside a jaffle: his green curry version, complete with buffalo mozzarella, was a menu hit back in 2015. His current trendsetting jaffle, the Korean Army Stew Jaffle, similarly mixes genres. Two slices of white bread are sealed shut, concealing a tasty filling of kransky, mortadella, kimchi, spicy Korean Ramyun noodles and stringy mozzarella. With the exception of the cheese, the filling is based upon budae jjigae, or army stew, a concoction invented from army rations and American processed foods during the Korean war.
155 Victoria Street, Potts Point; (02) 9240 3000
The Stinking Bishops
The Stinking Bishops has made its mark in toastie territory with not one but three melted-cheese creations on Brickfields bakery bread: Grilled Cheese (American parlance for the toastie) comprises “cheese, cheese, cheese”, according to the menu; the Wagyu Smoked Beef Mr Crispy is Wagyu with stretchy gruyère, house-made pickles and horseradish mayo; and the Mushroom Mr Crispy is a meaty (minus the meat) creation with field and enoki mushrooms, thyme mayonnaise and mild, fruity taleggio. The secret, though, isn’t the cheese, says co-owner Kieran Day: “Most importantly, butter, butter, butter. The French figured this out ages ago – we’re just stealing the technique.”
The mushroom Mr Crispy from The Stinking Bishops
5/63-71 Enmore Road, Newtown; (02) 9007 7754
The Sandwich Shop
There’s no mystery as to what’s going on at this establishment – well, The Sandwich Shop does do salad but as we all know, you don’t make friends with salad. Join the lunchtime queue at this Reservoir Street hole-in-the-wall and make your sandwich selection. The menu of sandwiches is substantial, as are the offerings themselves. For toasted triumph, order the Reuben – corned beef, sauerkraut, house-made thousand island dressing and Swiss cheese on rye, toasted until firm friends.
The Sandwich Shop Reuben
44 Reservoir Street, Surry Hills; (02) 9211 8710
Nothing goes better with a sharp cheddar than pickles. The combination, we’d go as far to say, is superior even to those old dancing partners of cheese and tomato. At Marrickville pickle-purveyor Cornersmith’s new(ish) Annandale café, the combo asserts its superiority with Milawa cheese and house-made fennel pickles between Bread & Butter Project sourdough with a little peppery watercress for good measure. Complicated? No. Hitting all the right flavour receptors? Oh, yes. The cheese, made by Milawa Cheese Company, almost wasn’t: referred to as the Mistake Cheese, it was supposed to be a blue but the resulting round ended up being a perfect, stringy melting cheese with a hint of that classic mushroom-y flavour of blue.
88 View Street, Annandale; (02) 8084 8466
Devon Café has never stuck to the de rigeur café menu of eggs, muesli and banana bread. Chef Zachary Tan prefers to dish up more exciting fare: the bruschetta comes with kale and nori, the poached eggs are accompanied by buckwheat blini instead of toast and the jaffle is a crisp pocket of white bread concealing truffled mushrooms with truffle mornay and molten provolone. Upping the ante is the (modestly named) Ultimate Toastie: mixed mushrooms, spinach, porcini cheese sauce with a poached egg on top. There’s even an option to add an extra shaving of fresh Western Australia truffle to your toastie. Do you dare?
76 Devonshire Street, Surry Hills; (02) 9211 8777
Baxter & Bird
Picking up the slack after the departure of chef Alex Herbert and her beloved Crooked Madame toasties from the Carriageworks Farmers Market is Baxter & Bird. Filling the sandwich-shaped hole are two toasted trifles made with super-soft (all the better to crisp to a buttery, crunchy crust) L’Ancienne Loaf from Organic Bread Bar in Paddington. The ham version has Linga Longa Farm free-range ham, mozzarella and a touch of fontina from The Pines Farm Kiama, and house-made quince mustard. A vegetarian version is created using seasonal produce from fellow stallholders – right now, expect roast pumpkin, caramelised onion, baby spinach, mozzarella and fontina.
Saturdays 8am-1pm, 245 Wilson Street, Eveleigh; (02) 8571 9099
Jaffles and Milo: the stuff of a legendary after-school snack. In the hands of Meraki Merchants owner/chef Toufick Chami, though, these two retro staples become new again: the Milo is flavoured with rosewater and the jaffles are stuffed with sujuk (spicy Lebanese sausage), feta, cheddar, olives and homemade relish. The menu takes an assertive dip into the eastern Mediterranean: Chami uses the flavours of his childhood as inspiration. And that Rosy Milo? His mum’s recipe – Chami’s twist is a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.
5/111 George Street, Parramatta; 0400 696 009
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The proprietors of Dutch Smuggler, which operates out of a tiny shopfront in the CBD, don’t so much cook as toast. The diminutive space doesn’t allow for elaborate pan-wielding but they’ve managed to get very creative in the toastie space. Case in point: the Mi Goreng. The Indonesian packet noodles beloved of students are served here with a soft-fried egg, an oozy combination of mozzarella and cheddar, shallots and “magic” sauce between two slices of white bread that valiantly attempt to keep it all together. Other outrageous options include a regular Toastie of the Week such as the recent Fiend for the Bean: baked beans, chorizo, mozzarella, cheddar and sour cream; and the Kim-Cheezy, a Korean-inspired concoction of chicken, bacon, tomato, cheddar, mozzarella, sriracha mayo and kimchi.
200 George Street, Sydney
Otherwise known as the fourth Earl of Sandwich, John Montagu was a profligate gambler to whom the honour of being the inventor of the sandwich is attributed. He was no humanitarian – his invention was pure self-interest; a meal held in the hands between two slices of bread meant he never had to leave the gaming tables at mealtimes. Fortunately, the good folks at his namesake café are more charitable, providing succour to the human race with toasted delights such as Beef Cheeks, on which 12-hour (way too long for our earl to consider) beef cheek gets intimate with cheddar, horseradish, Spanish onion and rocket on sourdough; or Cuban-braised pork with rose sauce, cheese, pickles and greens (you might need a knife and fork, further displeasing the earl). They do the basics, too: the $6 Maffra cheese toastie is made fragrant with the addition of fresh sage leaves and the rustic white bread turns a perfect hue of gold under the warm embrace of the sandwich press. Add ham for sandwich perfection.
144 Cathedral Street, Woolloomooloo
Arcadia presaged the toastie trend, debuting a mini menu of toasted sandwiches back in 2012 to accompany their main offering: beverages. Because, as John Montagu understood, the sandwich is the perfect food for when you’re occupied with something else: beer in one hand, toastie in the other. There are gourmet versions but the ham, cheese and tomato is a classic for a reason.
7 Cope Street, Redfern; (02) 8068 4470
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