Since opening just a few months ago, Effie’s has quickly become something of an institution. From 6am every morning, locals line-up at the cafe’s marble window to order coffees and perfectly flaky pastries, and on weekends you’re bound to find Sydneysiders from beyond the Northern Beaches gathered outside taking photos of the now-iconic Calacatta Viola feature. It’s no surprise the cafe is already a firm favourite - Effie’s is the second coffee shop in Balgowlah by co-owners Sam and Aniella Batten, the husband and wife duo behind Aggy’s Corner. Here, Sam and Aniella sit down to discuss the power of community, their plans for the year ahead, and they share the recipe for Effie’s Fresh Fig & Ricotta Toast.
Having owned Aggy’s Corner for four years, Sam and Aniella Batten say they were toying with the idea of opening a second venue. “We felt that the right place would present itself when the timing was right, and sure enough, that’s what happened. We saw ‘Closing Down Sale’ stickers on the windows of our local corner store, and we knew we had to have it.” Poignantly, Effie’s is named after Sam and Aniella’s youngest daughter, which is only fitting, given that Aggy’s was named after their first. Like their daughters, the two venues have seperate identities, but what they both have in common is a strong connection to the community. “We love that we have created two spaces where friends and families come together to share stories alongside good coffee and good food. Where possible, we support other small local businesses with the produce we use, and the curated pieces we offer,” the couple say. “We have really been embraced by the Northern Beaches community, and have especially felt their support over the past two years, through lockdowns and changing climates. We have made some truly wonderful connections and friends through our coffee shops, and have witnessed others making new friends, some even falling in love, all within our walls. It is very special, and something we do not take for granted.”
The menu at Effie’s is larger than the offering over at Aggy’s Corner, with crowd favourites including Skittle Lane coffee, toasties, croissants from Staple Bakery and cookies from Butter Boy served alongside new breakfast and lunch dishes. The couple say it’s all about “simple, fun, delicious food that can be enjoyed by yourself, or with your loved ones” and in just a few weeks Effie’s will open in the evenings as a restaurant and wine bar with a more “elevated menu, to align with a selection of natural wines curated by Winona.”
From the beginning, Sam and Aniella knew they would one day open a wine bar, which guided not only their menu, but also their aesthetic.“We wanted them to seamlessly transition from day to night,” the couple say of the interiors, which they describe as ‘elevated casual’. “We wanted to create a space that would work both as a coffee shop by day and a wine bar by night. The original plaster ceiling and concrete floors definitely helped shape the direction of the interiors. We wanted to preserve the character of the building, whilst adding a contemporary feel.” Their favourite design features include the floating concrete bench, which Sam built, the lovingly restored ceiling and, of course, the marble window. Equally as important is the curated offering of pantry staples and homewares, which reflects the couple’s commitment to supporting local makers and talent. “We have a handful of local underground makers who provide us with produce that either comes out on your plate or is stocked in our fridge. We proudly stock brands such as Mayde Tea, Maison Balzac, Cultiver and Leif. Our amazing artwork is done by the insanely talented and local artist Ash Holmes. Our plates and mugs are made by local ceramicist Alessandro Di Sarno, and we also sell ceramics by Gretel Corrie and Tanika Jellis.”
Ahead of the launch of Effie’s evening wine bar, Sam and Aniella shared the recipe for their Fresh Fig & Ricotta Toast with Assembly Label. The perfect combination of sweet, salty and zesty, this photo-worthy dish tastes as good as it looks.