Cafe culture is finally slowly rolling out in the northern Sydney suburbs and 1606 Luis de Torres, a stone’s throw from Rhodes train station, is a minimalist and modern addition to the scene. Named after the Portuguese sailors who first explored Australia, the cafe is high-ceilinged and vaguely nautical-themed, but mostly a study in open spaces and simple design, edged throughout with light wooden accents. The interior was designed by a Korean designer and features some really nice artworks and mugs behind the counter, though they’re sadly not for sale yet.
The food here is a fairly diverse range of brunch food and desserts, with Korean and Chinese influences. We started with the bruschetta ($13), which featured an egg, sprouts, balsamic relish and an avocado smash that was creamy and very cheesy, with tart tomato and strong onion flavours to offset it. The bread was a thick, soft multigrain however, which meant it was more of an open-faced sandwich than bruschetta. While it really soaked in the flavour of the topping, I found myself wishing for a slightly thinner and crispier base.
You may have seen the lightbulb drink trend on Instagram – Luis de Torres serves theirs with a little light for good measure, and it’s absolutely adorable. Their flavoured lemonades have the poppy bubblegum taste of Easyway drinks, but sometimes you just need a bit of a pick-me-up sugar rush, no?
I really enjoyed the bulgogi beef burger on brioche ($15), which is one of the cafe’s signatures and a good example of where its Korean roots fuses with Australian cuisine. Here, the sweet notes in the bulgogi sauce complements the mayo, and the tangy, slightly pickled onions balance out the flavour. The thin steak slices work well with the rest of the sandwich – and it’s actually steak not mince, mind. The bread was clearly a panini, not brioche, but it was grilled very well – crispy outside and airy inside – and I think it made for a more substantial meal.
The Luis Periperi Chicken burger on brioche ($15) had a stronger spicy kick to it that I expected — though I really can’t tell you why I wasn’t expecting a lot of spice after ordering Periperi chicken! The chicken breast itself was a little underseasoned, but it fortunately had the sauces doing the legwork. If you’re part of the ‘no grilled pineapple on savoury food’ club, this burger isn’t for you but if you’re a neutral party, the entire burger is an interesting combination of spicy, sweet and savoury flavours – pretty great in cooler weather when you might need a bit of heat.
You get the feeling you could spend a lot of time at Luis de Torres’ airy and light-filled environment, and be productive to boot. Like the handful of other cafes popping up in Rhodes, 1606 Luis de Torres is the sort of go-to local haunt that makes it possible to have solid brunch and a place to catch up with friends, without having to travel all the way out to the city or inner suburbs. That’s definitely something to celebrate.
1606 Luis de Torres
Suite 7, 7 Rider Boulevard, Rhodes, Sydney NSW
Phone: 0424 869 584
Web: 1606 Luis de Torres
I Ate My Way Through dined as guests of 1606 Luis de Torres.