You can easily pick a fight over Fleetwood Macchiato's name. In the week that this Erskineville joint has been open, I've already heard people slam its jokey title while others have hailed its punchline brilliance. What's clear cut, though, is that this is a really good cafe.
It's partly run by Jai Pyne – a familiar face, given that he's the frontman for The Paper Scissors and used to work at Black Star Pastry. Prior to opening this new venture, he was at The Golden Cobra and that roaster can be credited for the supply lines of super-serious coffee at Fleetwood Macchiato. The Debut de Siecle house blend makes for a good long black (minus what I cleverly spilt on my shirt) and, if you're into filter coffee, the menu's extensive tasting notes help make the case for some well-sourced single origins (the Kayumbu from Rwanda claims to have crisp citrus acidity, milk chocolate and vanilla hints and a caramel finish; the personal discovery that it leaves you "unpleasant to kiss" may be an unintentional after-effect, though). If you tend to your own brews at home, you can also buy 250g takeaway bags of what's on offer, too.
Beyond caffeine fixes, there are some interesting beverages on offer, such as Pomegranate Lemonade ($5), "Erskineville" Sparkling Water ($2 for endless top-ups from the inhouse sodastream), Larsen & Thompson teas and a brilliant drink called Little Rippler ($6), which is fresh-squeezed orange and mango juice, with a pinwheel swirl of raspberry reduction on top. It's so damn good – it's the most upbeat, summer-reviving flavour you'll encounter during this ankle-freezing season.
And the food is excellent, too. The Roasted Mushrooms with Miso Butter and Radish Baguette ($11) is straight-out delicious; with its tart addition of pickled cucumber and firepower dose of sriracha hot sauce, it actually reminds me of banh mi. And it turns out that that association is not too far off – the sandwich is loosely inspired by David Chang's pork buns at Momofuku. Will, despite not having an appetite, ended up smashing a Poached Chicken Baguette with Coriander Aioli and Slaw ($11). His crumb-clear plate was an endorsement of how good it was. Another fine lunch pick is the Winter Vegetable Salad ($14.50) – colour-vibrant strips of roasted beetroot, carrot and parsnip, dressed with lemony, garlic tahini and served with chickpeas and salad leaves.
The breakfast options are good, too. Baked Eggs with Napoli and Pangritata ($13.50) are tailored for soaking up with crusty, seed-studded slices from Organic Bread Bar in Paddington. The slow-cooked garlic, tomato and basil sauce is entirely worth sponging up with carbs and the golden-fried grit of bread-crumbs is a tasty bonus. My side dish of Cumin-Roasted Pumpkin ($4) was a good cold-weather companion, too. The Baked Beans ($4) were a little standard-issue, but it's a little ambitious to expect every single menu item to impress. Next time, I'd like to try the House-Made Corn Tortilla ($14) served with Achiote butter, roasted mushrooms and spring onions. And perhaps I could be tempted by the rotating Spanish potato omelette, which gets paired up with "whatever's good + a slice of bread" ($9).
Although the cafe's name suggests diners will be exposed to an endless loop of Tusk and Rumors, the soundtrack is rather current. Beach House, Janelle Monae and Geoffrey O'Connor were a few of the bands who got played during my visits.
So, once you've settled your reaction to Fleetwood Macchiato's name, there's no further argument necessary. This is a cafe that will hopefully stick around for a while, like a classic, always-played-on-AM-radio band.
Fleetwood Macchiato, 43 Erskineville Rd, Erskineville NSW 02 9557 9291, www.fleetwoodmacchiato.com