571 King St, Newtown, NSW
I received a recommendation recently via the subreddit /r/sydney saying that I had to try the sausage rolls at Miss Lilly’s in Newtown. I must admit that I haven’t tried any places in Newtown apart from The Pie Tin, because it’s so good there and I am in the area seldom enough that all I ever want to do is go back there. But, if someone is going to go out of their way to specifically recommend an establishment to me, I have to try it!
I made a special expedition over to Newtown just for this. I messed up a bit reading Google Maps and ended up at the wrong end of Newtown, wondering why I couldn’t find it. Consulting my phone, I realised my error, and walked along the entire eclectic university-student-filled shopping strip to the far end. This was fortunate as it helped build an appetite!
I found Miss Lilly’s behind a humble shopfront on busy King Street. It bills itself as a “bakery cafe”, but there isn’t much room inside for the two tables, and there are two tables out on the footpath. The unassuming counter contains a small selection of slightly rustic, home-made style cakes, tarts, and slices. This is not a high-end patisserie – it looks like a typical small business cafe that someone just started to make a living. Unfortunately there isn’t a vanilla slice, but then that would have been a bonus since I really came here for the sausage rolls.
Moving on from the sweets, the menu board boasts a deliciously varied sounding assortment of 7 pies, 3 quiches, and not one, not two, but four sausage rolls. There is pork and fennel, beef and herbs, lamb and roast garlic, and a vegetarian kale and feta roll. I asked for the pork and beef rolls, but they were out of the beef, and so I chose the lamb to replace it. I told the friendly woman that I’d grab one of the outside tables, and she said to go out and take a seat, and she’d bring my rolls out. She also asked if I’d like some water, which I took up. That’s a thumbs up for the service, as many places wouldn’t bother asking you, and rely on you asking them for water.
The two rolls were placed on a single enamelled metal plate. Both were very dark golden brown in appearance, obviously well baked. They were of respectable length, but a little on the thin side, making me think perhaps the filling wasn’t particularly generous. The meat was nicely charred on the ends of both rolls.
I began with the pork and fennel roll, which was sprinkled on top with fennel seeds. At the first bite, the impression of the pastry was rich and buttery, wrapped tightly around the meat filling without any airy pockets that bedevil some rolls. There are large chunks of fresh fennel stalk and seeds and onions within the rich juicy pork, nicely seasoned without being too salty. It’s delicious, but there are the occasional pieces of slimy, doughy texture from the pastry where the meat juices have moistened it during baking. This is a minor complaint, though, as the overall impression is very good. I would have liked the filling to be just a little bit thicker and more generous, although given the butteriness of the pastry and juiciness of the pork, perhaps that might have ended up too rich and filling.
I moved on to the lamb and roast garlic sausage roll. It is similar appearance to the pork roll but with dried rosemary on top. The pastry is very similar. The meat filling is darker as you’d expect from lamb, with large chunks of onion and carrots. The vegetable chunks in both these rolls are really quite remarkable – I don’t think I’ve ever seen chunks as large as this before. There’s also small visible specks of black pepper. The garlic flavour is extremely subtle to begin with, but comes through nicely after a few bites without being overpowering. The lamb meat is tender and moist without being as juicy as the pork, so the inner pastry on this one is firmer without the soggy bits, giving an overall more pleasing texture. The garlic is very well balanced, definitely noticeable but not dominating. This roll is also really good and perhaps technically better executed, but I prefer the pork and fennel flavour and the slightly more juicy meat, so it’s too difficult to separate the scores.
But I’m glad I listened to the recommendation! I will definitely have to come back and try the beef and herb, and the kale and feta rolls another day. After two of these rolls for lunch I was so full that I didn’t even want to try any of the sweets.
Pork and fennel sausage roll: 9/10
Lamb and roast garlic sausage roll: 9/10