FDRecipeSplash, Petersham review
FDRecipeSplash, Petersham review

Splash, Petersham review

From carb-loaded marvels to the Bradman burger, there’s plenty to lap up at inner west poolside cafe Splash.

Lee Tran Lam

The chip butty with curry sauce at Splash in Petersham is so damn good I ordered it five times in three days. I didn’t plan to repeatedly ask for the same sandwich, but every time I hit this canteen by Fanny Durack Aquatic Center’s
entrance, I couldn’t give up the chance to try this fry-heaped joy.

Instead of duplicating my request each time, I did flex some variations. I first tried it with a salad of roast potatoes, greens and red wine dressing, while my boyfriend got the Bradman burger (named after Don Bradman, who achieved his first century in grade cricket at Petersham Park in 1926).

On my second visit, I blitzed through the salad sandwich with vegan mayo, and still found room for the chip-stacked butty afterwards.

Chip butty with gravy sauce.
Chip butty with gravy sauce.Edwina Pickles

The third instance, I ordered multiple boxes and cut the butter-bronzed sandwiches into snackable serves for a party – where it earned praise I undeservedly claimed.

Credit should really go to Mitch Jones, Splash’s head chef, and co-owner Michael Ico, who runs this poolside kiosk alongside Daniel Harrison and Harry Paton. You might recognize them as the talent behind Newtown’s Soulmate, which Good Food name-checked as one of Sydney’s 20 best cafes.

You might also clock similarities between both menus. The in-house sambal – reduced for hours until the chillies and garlic turn crisp, and sweetened further with palm sugar – was weaponised to great effect in Soulmate’s bacon and egg Bae roll.

At Splash, it’s smartly deployed between the mattress-thick slices of the salad sandwich as well as a meat-free Bae alternative piled with hash browns, halloumi
and eggs, all given the greasy afterglow you want at breakfast time. Soulmate’s panko-crusted fish sandwich special now has permanent residency on Splash’s menu, too.

But Soulmate’s crew aren’t copying and pasting their Newtown cafe into a Petersham setting. Splash has many one-of-a-kind offerings and chips
butty with curry sauce is one such attraction.

Anyone who’s shoveled hot chips into bread knows there’s a carb-loading
joy of enveloping fried potatoes in a sandwich. But the chips can flop out
or the whole venture prove deleterious: moistureless potatoes on dry white bread. Splash’s version is so ingenious and fail-proof, it’s a culinary wonder.

The kitchen butters the bread initially, then steams it to create a pocket for the fries. A cafe of lesser rank might mindlessly stuff the fries anywhere, but Splash’s team applies each one with bricklayer-like precision, positioning the longest chips on the bottom.

Salad sandwiches.
Salad sandwiches.Edwina Pickles

“We stack them like fish fingers and then the smaller ones go on top,” says Jones. “Then we butter it again when it comes off the grill, so it’s double-buttered.”

It means the sandwich is deeply tanned and wonderfully greasy. And while the curry sauce is technically optional, it really is non-negotiable. “That’s something that my grandmother grew up with,” says Jones.

Spiced with many warming flavors (ginger, cinnamon, turmeric), the sauce levels up the seasoning that the crunchy chips are already coated with. It’s honestly one of Sydney’s best sandwiches.

While Jones oversees the menu, Ico is the main force behind Splash. He’s a local who has frequented Petersham Park (where the venue is located) many times. He’d regularly walk by and dream of doing something at the poolside cafe. “All of a sudden, I had a few friends texting me saying, ‘Hey, the spot’s empty!’” says Ico.

The Bradman burger.
The Bradman burger.Edwina Pickles

After several whirlwind weeks in late 2023, Splash opened as a truly all-purpose cafe. There are healthier options for people prioritizing laps and dives at the pool (the salads and a green smoothie you’d actually want to drink) and kid-friendly items for families hitting the swings and slides in the park.

The brilliant Splice shake, for example, tastes exactly like the ice-cream from your childhood. And you can also request Killer Pythons and Bubble O’Bills at the counter, or Pepe Saya sea salt caramel gelato by the scoop from Mapo.

It’s conveniently located if you need a poolside snack, but if you’re a non-swimmer, there’s entry to Splash from the park and as peak swimming weather declines, there’s still plenty to draw you back. Like that perfect chip butty sandwich with curry sauce.

The low-down

Vibes: A contemporary, inclusive remix of old-school canteens. There’s an outdoor deck for non-swimmers, but you can also take your order out onto the grass as well.

Insta-worthy dish: The precisely constructed chip butty sandwich or the
Aussie-style Bradman burger

Average cost for two: About $40, plus drinks

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