Caffe Q’s brings a bit of Europe to the new Quay Quarter

Wandering through the streets, with the sun’s glow lowering itself  behind the buildings, you stumble upon a  little establishment, serving hand selected wines, curated tapas inspired eats and cocktails. 

It feels like Europe.

Only it’s not. It’s Caffe Q’s in Circular Quay. It’s the vibe of this well-appointed small cafe and bar in the city that draws you in. It’s chill, it’s refined and it’s very very European.

A café by day and an aperitivo bar by evening, filled with charm, hand selected high quality small batch Australian wines and cocktails that bring together the best of Australian ingredients. For instance the Aussie Faux Pas ($17) for instance brings together Davidson Plum as the bitter orange, a sweet vermouth from South Australia and Australian sparkling. The cocktail was apparently made by accident, when someone asked for a negroni. This is the sweeter, more delicate cousin.

We enjoyed a gorgeous Australia Sangiovese ($13) from a single vineyard in Forreston. Served chilled, this is one example of how refined the wine selection is with brands you wouldn’t usually see.

European delights, restrained sophistication

Owned and run by Quynh Nguyen, who has experienced the wonders of Spanish tapas, and brought the notion of Pintxos to Sydney in a unique way. The Pintxos (small bar snack) are all $4  and range from sardines to prosciutto and camembert sandwiches, these come with a toothpick, just like in Basque, another tip of the cap to the European small bars dotting the continent.

From the lime squeezed Patatas Fritas w Tajin e citrus – $7 (fried potato with lime) to the Marcona Almonds ($8) (almonds that magically taste like cashews)  the food is small but mighty.  Prosciutto with chili ($12) is generous in it’s serving. There are also gluten free options, so the sandwiches can be enjoyed by everyone. We devoured the Pintxo of the day – camembert and ham.

It’s a space for friends, food and fine wine – without the pomp, and instead a lot of restrained sophistication. The venue can seat 16 people, another nod to those historic venues around Spain and Italy. So the best thing – it’s not loud and you can hear each other speak without the din of a million diners. I get the sense that Nguyen is adept at people reading tailors your experience to deliver exactly what you’re looking for with a clear desire to make your day.

A variety of Pintxos

Nguyen, who has worked at Fred’s and Margaret locally and runs an international drinks consultancy, opened Caffe Q’s with a simple philosophy of providing personal, memorable service along with top quality ingredients for simple food and interesting drink options. And drawing on his past travels in Italy and Spain in particular, Nguyen hopes to create a ‘destination’ where people come to meet for a catch-up coffee or cocktail without committing to a big meal. 

“I’ve always loved the idea of grazing food,” Nguyen said. “I look at bars and cafes as places of social interaction, and I love the natural flow of these tiny spaces.”

“You somehow inadvertently have taken the wrong direction but somehow discovered a cafe that’s always been there, and you end up having the best time purely on the basis of the hospitality of the locals – this is what I want Caffe Q’s to be,” he said.

Quynh Nguyen (hence Caffe Q’s) the man bringing Europe to you

Finding Caffe Q’s was a tough one (especially since I have no sense of direction), but the best way to find the place is to wander down Philip Street toward the Quay and you’ll be sure to stumble upon it… and be so glad you did.

Caffe Q’s
R2002/50 Bridge St, Sydney NSW 2000
Sat – Sun – Closed
Monday – 7am – 4pm
Tuesday – Thursday 7pm – 9pm
Friday – 7am – 10pm

About the author

Michelle hails from the UK – but grew up with big flavours and spices thanks to her Singaporean Mum. International cuisine has always been part of Michelle’s life as she explored the world in the pursuit of delicious food and wine – along with a castle or two. Michelle now lives in Sydney after a lengthy stint in Brisbane (a city dear to her heart, which she visits frequently). She is letting her nose and palette be her guide as she discovers and shares exciting and delicious dining experiences. Michelle also loves, in equal measure, fashion, sunshine and puppies.