Pimp My Plate #10 – Surry Hills, NSW

PIMP MY PLATE is my weekly series of reviews of cafés and restaurants in city and regional areas – I pop up all over over the place. My foodie challenge to find a good meal – lunch or brunch – with a limited budget of $18 or less for the main plate.

‘Suzy Q’ coffee + records

Tucked down an inner city laneway, Suzy Q offers a trifecta of good food, coffee, and vinyl records.

Taking a quick flick through their racks of 12” LPs brought back memories of seeing some of these bands live in concert: Earth Wind and Fire, Jimmy Smith, Smokey Robinson, Culture Club… the Cars.

Suzy Q combines their love of quality produce, with quality music. Menu sleeves are fashioned from old record covers, and menu items include LA Woman, Sex Machine, and Heartattack and Vine.

Elliot Landy’s 1969 photograph of festival goers at Woodstock covers the feature wall. It evokes another time, place, and mind space. In NSW, the AQUARIUS festival was the first equivalent counter culture festival. It was held in Nimbin in 1973, and was later described as the birthplace of Australia’s hippie movement.

Suzy Q’s owners named their café after the song ‘Suzie Q’, written by Louisiana-born singer and guitarist Dale Hawkins. Its connection with Woodstock is that it was performed by Creedence Clearwater Revival on Day 2 of the festival. You can find the live recording of the song from Woodstock online, but the audio quality isn’t great.

Over the years, lots of bands have recorded cover versions: the Rolling Stones, José Feliciano, and even Suzie Quatro. Why not take a listen to Ray Hawkin’s original rockabilly version here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_wq2f_X_6Nk

Suzy Q café is an energetic little meeting space for young mums with bubs, friends, business folks talking biz-between-bites, ad agency types with cool haircuts, and locals ordering from their take away menu.

I bypassed the brioche buns and sandwiches and ordered the Daily Special – Freekeh Salad ($17).

Freekeh is basically ‘green wheat’, young wheat that has been toasted and cracked. It’s a whole grain food, similar to bulgur wheat, high in fibre, with a delicious nutty flavour, and chewy texture. Although freekeh is a relatively ‘new’ ingredient in Western kitchens, this grain is popular in cuisines from Iraq, Egypt, North Africa, and Jordan.

My Freekeh Salad arrived – a colourful food mosaic on my plate, pimped with flavour, and quality produce.

Yum! This salad was loaded with texture, and freshness: blanched and seasoned cauliflower florets, yellow squash, roast pumpkin, pomegranate seeds, sliced red radish, pumpkin seeds, tahini, yoghurt, and feta cheese, and the addition of pickled red onion strips added some sweet-sour crunch.

I don’t have gluten intolerance, so for me this salad was one of the healthiest Pimp My Plate lunches I’ve eaten. Go to Suzy Q, you won’t leave Blue.

RATED: My salad was Pimped!  FOOD: 4.5/5
VALUE: 5/5  ATMOS: 4/5  VIBE: Music for your mouth
‘Suzy Q’ coffee + records – 1/18 Hutchinson Street, Surry Hills, NSW (Mon-Sun)

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All images © Awia Markey