The Toby’s Estate Cafe - known as 80 Bay (after the street address) has been open for business for a couple of weeks now. Penultimo first wrote about the new Toby’s Estate Cafe here, and there was some concern that Toby’s Estate was taking over the historic Co-op Bookstore — but it didn’t.
80 Bay (something of a dicky name, we thought) fills the space once used for the adjacent Readers Digest bookstore. We’re alright with that. They have bentwood chairs, and enjoy the high ceilings and giant windows that this old Broadway Building on Bay Street provides.
Anyway, so now it is with an odd sense of unease that we admit that Ultimo now has not 1, but 2 places where you can buy syphon coffee and all the other well-crafted, locally-roasted-nice-smelling magical stuff that goes along with that sort of thing.
Even in late 2010 we were claiming (and maybe kinda complaining) that Ultimo did not have a coffee culture. (See: Academic picks on Ultimo for its “Latte Culture”) Sure, Ultimo was a damn good place to get a bacon & egg roll, but that was about it. There was an abundance of cafes, but they all (bar Tom & Lily’s in Quarry St) sold crap coffee and … well … donuts.
We wondered why this might be the case, given Ultimo’s surrounding suburbs - Glebe, Surry Hills, Pyrmont, Chippendale - those places are overflowing with the stuff.
Could there be something intrinsically culture-resistant and dowdy about Ultimo? Is it more than just a class thing? Is it to do with the style of diversity that Ultimo fosters - more Asian influence than European? Should that matter, these days? We suspect things are more complicated than that.
But no - before we could come to a hard and fast conclusion, by 2011 Ultimo jumped on the gourmet-coffee-couture-bandwagon, and it’s not doing this by halves.
And so a suburb goes through ever more shades of gentrification … Don’t worry, it’ll never be like Paddington.
It’s still a bit grimy and we still don’t have a functional newsagency.