Food: Hearty, straightforward, everything a classic. Much of it is spot-on…
Service: With cloths at the ready, they look like off-duty mechanics but work the room like service pros.
Atmosphere: Macchiato, motorbikes and manga sum up contemporary masculinity.
Value: Workmanlike, dishes from $3 to $17.
Noise: Pretty good considering the height of the ceiling.
Recommended dishes: Eggs, steak sandwich, ciabatta sandwiches, pastries, coffee.
DEUS EX MACHINA means “god from a machine” in Latin. In Camperdown, it means the nearest thing to heaven for blokes mad about bikes.
They (and their equally mad female counterparts) head here for motorcycles, retro in design and calibrated like Swiss watches, lined up for sale inside a vast renovated former factory that fronts downtown auto alley, Parramatta Road.
They wander around, gazing lovingly at gleaming engines with names such as Triumph Thruxton, Kawasaki, Deus Grievous Angel and Drovers Dog Custom. These licences-to-speed sit pertly on their wheeled haunches like pedigree dogs at a show.
All the accessories are here too: piston hoodies, helmets named after Parisian suburbs, chukka boots, beatnik sunglasses, gripping gloves. The atmosphere is not only accessorised, it’s also artistic, with books and posters and a Persian carpet.
Caffeine is the perfect partner for speed so Deus Ex Machina has embraced the espresso machine, then gone one better. It’s put in the whole kitchen and created the Deus Cafe.
So discreetly is this cafe attached to the glass-fronted shop that you could easily not know it’s there, or open for all-day breakfast and lunch. The shades are drawn and the signage minimal.
That’s why at lunchtime on a Saturday we’re pleasantly surprised to push open the side door and find the cafe is not just peopled with men sipping macchiato. Prams are parked at the rugged wooden, ultra-long communal tables. Babies are jiggled by fathers and friends while cool-as mums tuck into scrambled eggs with baked ricotta and flat-white coffees.
You don’t have to sit at a table: there are low stools and bar stools, coffee tables and benches, rattan lounges and armchairs without upholstery in corners of the room.
Wooden venetian blinds filter sunlight, crimson curtains add drama and the vintage green enamel pendant lights echo the building’s history. Bicycles hang from original wooden columns and the timber beams are scratched with white paint.