Stacey Roberts, Hornsby Advocate September 26, 2018 12:00pm
Hilary and Stewart Wallace in the outdoor dining area of the cafe, which overlooks Wahroonga Park. Pictures: Adam Yip
A cafe tucked away on a quiet street of Wahroonga has been named Sydney’s best.
Cafe Patina was named Sydney Cafe of the Year at the 2018 New South Wales Savour Australia Restaurant & Catering HOSTPLUS Awards for Excellence on September 17.
For Cafe Patina’s head chef and co-owner Stewart Wallace, the win was “very, very humbling”.
Stewart and his wife Hilary entered the awards for the first time last year, and this time around they won both the Sydney Cafe Dining category and the overall Sydney Cafe of the Year.
The Wallaces took over the cafe opposite Wahroonga Park almost two years ago.
The cafe holds many memories for Mr Wallace, who was the head chef there 25 years ago when it was known as The Coonanbarra Café.
Stewart in the kitchen, where consistency and presentation are contributors to their success. Picture: Adam Yip
Roasted pork belly ($32) from the dinner menu. Picture: Cafe Patina
After leaving Wahroonga, he worked in kitchens in Sydney and around the world, most recently at Cafe Sydney at Circular Quay and the Garfish Restaurant Group.
When his former boss and now landlord – who had leased out the restaurant to new owners five years prior – contacted Mr Wallace about the cafe being available, the opportunity to come full circle was too good to pass up.
“I can remember walking by here as a boy, when it was a hardware store,” he said.
The Wallaces, who live in nearby Berowra, proudly know their regulars by name.
“This is a local, and the most important thing I want you to feel when you come in is welcome and loved,” Mrs Wallace said.
Stewart’s favourite: Turkish baked eggs ($24). Picture: Cafe Patina
Mr Wallace described the menu as “wholesome, modern Australian”, with everything made from scratch and a focus on healthy, natural ingredients.
“There’s a lot of love on the plate,” he said.
Cafe Patina will now join other state winners at the national awards on October 29.
Mrs Wallace said it was “nice to be recognised” for what the cafe had set out to achieve.
“This is a really nice way to know you’re doing it right,” she said.
Cafe Patina is open for breakfast and lunch everyday and for dinner from Wednesdays to Saturdays at 62 Coonanbarra Rd, Wahroonga.
■ In November, Cafe Patina will host a three-course Melbourne Cup lunch with a glass of French sparkling for $75 per person – bookings are essential.