Really, there’s nothing more shithouse, more overpriced and more reliably underwhelming than airport food. I virtually never eat McDonald’s as part of my Sydney eating regimen – or, erm, at least when I’m sober – but get me to an airport and it becomes a viable, reliable option, so putrid are the other random eating spots serving food with the same zeal as a prison canteen.
So while boarding my flight to Queenstown today, en route to research a travel story, the jazz diva and I checked in early enough to visit a rare breed – a real restaurant. Anyone who loves their cafes in Sydney know all about Danks Street Depot, Jared Ingersoll’s dynamic café in Waterloo that pairs skilled cooking with quality produce. It also has the best damn reuben in town – something an expat New Yorker like me can hold dear to his heart.
Ingersoll isn’t in the kitchen, wherever it is as I don’t notice any pan-rattlers (admittedly, I didn’t look very hard), but I don’t expect him to be. In fact, I’m not sure what to expect, but things start off well with the staff promptly seating us to one of the walnut-stained wood tables. It’s not the easiest space in the world to make warm – sandwiched in an open-air slot between the airline check-in counters and cheesy airport shops – but whoever designed it has done an admirable job. High-backed wood “banquets” face straight-edged, long beech tables and give a physical divide between Danks St’s organic fit-out and the frigid airport ecosystem beyond. Warm-lit lamps with designer shades also add a homey counterbalance to the flouro lighting that surrounds the terminal. It’s a far cry from the real Danks St, but it’s an excellent spot in which to relax for its relative setting.
For breakfast, the jazz diva and I get a latte and a bowl for a long black, then split an intriguing bacon hash with poached eggs and sourdough toast. What arrives is lovely: thick-cut chunks of bacon, textbook poached eggs,, roasted potato pieces and a tomato half, topped with a breadcrumb crunch. I’m not sure what happens here at lunch, but I’ll vouch for brekkie, and the menus for both mealtimes are quite extensive.
The coffee is adequate, but the crema’s a bit weak, as is the texture. And the service is a bit wobbly, and staff become downright paranoid when I start taking photos. They’re obviously not used to the same food blogging crowd who have made the Waterloo café a second office. That feels like nitpicking, though, since Danks St is a rare oasis in a flight path normally reserved for stressy check-in procedures, an unwanted onslaught of duty-free shops, and food that typically needs to take a flying leap.
Danks St Depot, Sydney International Airport, Terminal 1, Mascot, NSW, +61 2 9669 0755