Let’s do lunch: 10 eats under $10 in the Sydney CBD

There’s no such thing as a free lunch, especially in Sydney. There are however spots in Sydney’s CBD where you can grab a memorable lunch for under $10. The following is a list of my ten favourite lunches for under $10:

1. Chicken Laksa at Malay Chinese Takeaway – $8.70

I have never tasted laksa this good. Even in Malaysia. I’ve tried laksa at street hawker markets in Penang and high-end Malaysian restaurants, but none match the laksha at the MCT. This unassuming establishment is a huge hit with the financial crowd in the CBD, with a crowd of suits assembling a long line from 12 noon. Get there early to get a seat. And you may want to buy a bip (50 cents).

2. Roti canai at Mamak – $5.50

The line for Mamak often runs around the block, and there’s good reason for it. My absolute favourite dish from Mamak is the roti canai, which comes with spicy sambal sauce and curry dips.

3. Chorizo Bocadillo at Encasa Deli – $9.00

A bocadillo is basically a baguette sandwich, a common street snack in Spain. Located in Sydney’s Spanish Quarter, Encasa Deli has a whole range of bocadillos available for lunch. Try the Chorizo, which comes with capsicum, onion and aoili.

4. Chicken Schnitzel Sandwich at Via Abercrombie – ~$10.00

Located in a laneway behind the Establishment, this little sandwich shop is renowned for its huge sandwiches and extremely long wait times. The chicken schnitzel is the signature. Beware, they often tend to ‘run out’ of their popular sandwiches, so get there early (by noon) to be safe.

5. Beef in Burgundy meat pie at La Renaissance – ~$10.00

An establishment predominantly known for its artistic and delicious desserts, La Renaissance does an extremely good job with casual French cafe food as well, offering a solid range of pies, baguettes and quiches. The Beef in Burgundy pie is definitely a hit. If you feel like splurging on dessert after, definitely try a slice of the Mousse Picasso.

6. The Naked Duck Panini at The Naked Duck – $10.00

The Naked Duck is a bit of a hit in the newly constructed Darling Quarter area. The ND Panini is a delicious duck sandwich, the Chinese five spice dressing being the cherry on top. Also noteworthy is The Naked Duck Roll, choose either the 12 hour slow cooked lamb or twice cooked pulled pork.

7. El Loco Hotdog at El Loco, Slip Inn – $10.00

One of El Loco’s signatures, this hot dog is absolutely delicious! The combination of the spicy house made frank with the jalapenos and the generous serving of queso fresca on top is a hit. The tacos are also worth trying – go for the Breakfast Taco or the Camaron (prawn).

8. Lamb & Onion Dumplings at Chinese Noodle Restaurant – $9.90

Formerly known as MJ’s Eatery, this little establishment often has a crowd around peak lunch and dinner times. While known for the handmade noodles, the dumplings are a cracker as well. Each serve comes with 12 dumplings (although you can ask for a half-serve). My favourite is the lamb & onion, and I would recommend getting 1/2 steamed and 1/2 pan-fried.

9. Tiger Prawn & Green Mango Rice Paper Rolls at Miss Chu’s CBD Tuckshop – $7.50

Known as the Queen of Rice Paper Rolls, Miss Chu brings in a playfulness to a Vietnamese staple. There’s a range of rice paper rolls, duck pancakes, dumplings, banh mi and a whole lot more. If the location (corner of Bathurst and George Street) is too far for you, you’d be pleased to know that they deliver!

10. Duck Pancakes at York Lane Bar – $12.00

OK, it’s over $10, but I couldn’t leave this one out. YLB is a really quaint cafe in an lane (yes, York Lane) behind Wynyard Station. They have a great rotating menu with seasonal specials, but these duck pancakes with hoisin sauce are absolutely delish!

Miss Chu's Pop Up Tuck Shop

Miss Chu’s Pop Up Tuck Shop

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Kepos St Kitchen – a Redfern gem with a Mediterranean twist

Kepos St Kitchen – 96 Kepos Street, Redfern. http://keposstreetkitchen.com.au

What do you get when you combine a cute corner spot in the leafy side of Redfern with a couple of ex-Bathers Pavilion chefs and managers? Oh, and an owner/chef who hails from Tel Aviv. You get a remarkably charming cafe that distinguishes itself not only with its casual and laid-back atmosphere, but also creative menu that has an undoubtedly Mediterranean influence, no doubt as a result of the owner’s heritage.

Arriving at 12 noon on a Sunday morning, we had just missed the breakfast menu (only available til 11.30, even on weekends). The advantage was that we were at that cross-over point between breakky and lunch so managed to avoid a long line and ended up waiting only around 15 minutes. Kepos St Kitchen is quite a cosy cafe, so beware peak breakfast times may warrant a long wait, with queues spotted extending round the corner.

KSK

Clockwise from top left: Trademark sign from outside, menu, the charming exterior, one of the many nice touches to the interior

Unlike many cafes that specialise in breakfast, Kepos Street Kitchen had quite an extensive lunch menu, with a nice variety of salads, meatier options and stews. We were in the mood for something more substantial than a salad. What we ate:

  • Shakshuka of gently baked eggs w tomatoes and coriander tahini ($~16): this was the daily special, however, our waitress mentioned that this was a staple on the previous menu and very popular with customers. An easy sell. It didn’t disappoint – it was delicious and loved the blend of tomato and coriander with the spices.
  • Spicy chickpea and lamb shank stew, soft eggs, preserved lemon oil, toast ($19): a tasty dish, a nice combination of lamb & chickpeas. My only reservation was this wasn’t as spicy as the title sounds, could do with a bit more bite
  • Fig and mascarpone tart ($4): a surprisingly refreshing treat, the standout being the fluffy pastry that lifts the dish
  • Brownie w white halva ($4): another yummy treat, it’s hard not to notice the baked goods on the counter as you enter
Clockwise from top left:

Clockwise from top left: the Shakshuka, chickpea and lamb shank stew,

the verdict: 8.5/10 – love the concept, food and casual vibe. a big plus is the extensive menu (breakfast, lunch & dinner) that will ensure you have a reason to come back

don’t forget to order: the shakshuka

to try next time: would love to come back for breakfast or dinner – both menus look extremely enticing. on the lunch menu, the ksk churros w salted caramel would be another bet for next time :)

Kepos Street Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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Three Blue Ducks – bringing local produce to centre stage

Three Blue Ducks – 141-143 Macpherson St, Bronte. http://www.threeblueducks.com

There aren’t many experiences more glorious in Sydney than doing the Coogee to Bondi walk. Well, maybe shortening the walk a tad and flipping it to be the Bondi to Bronte walk so you can end at Bronte Beach and finish with brunch at the Three Blue Ducks.

Three Blue Ducks has been mentioned countless times in lists of Sydney’s best breakfast and brunch. So much so that when I first went there and just missed breakfast (it’s only til 11.30am), I decided to leave and come back another time just to try their breakfast first. What’s unique about TBD is the locally sourced produce, some of it even grown in the backyard or the spaces by the side of the alleyway at the restaurant. Three Blue Ducks was started by three friends who came up with the idea to start the restaurant in Morocco, with one of them ex-Tetsuya’s.

Clockwise from top left: menu, behind the counter, the vertical garden by the side of the restaurant, the colourful alley leading to the back

Clockwise from top left: menu, behind the counter, the vertical garden by the side of the restaurant, the colourful alley leading to the back

What we ate and drank:

  • Poached eggs, spinach, sauce hollandaise and king salmon ($20): an eggs benedict, but the freshness of the dish was incredibly striking. Rather than getting smoked salmon with the eggs and hollandaise, you get a substantial piece of fresh Tasmanian salmon. A luxurious touch to a traditional dish.
  • Coddled eggs with chorizo, capsicum and cannellini beans ($20): another great dish, love the combination of the eggs, chorizo and beans. Solid breakfast food.
  • Ginger ninja fresh juice – ginger, apple, carrot and watermelon ($6): such a refreshing fresh juice with a bite, especially for ginger tragics like yours truly
  • Refresher mint organic tea (by the Rabbit Hole) – pineapple & mint mix ($4.50): absolutely loved this tea, and I would imagine all the other ones on the list.
Clockwise from top left: the

Clockwise from top left: the Ginger Ninja fresh juice; refresher mint organic tea; coddled eggs w chorizo, capsicum and beans; poached eggs w spinach, hollandaise sauce and king salmon

It’s a treat to see simple food that is executed so well and made from locally sourced, fresh ingredients. Love the concept, space & the experience. Make this the end to your spectacular coastal walk.

the verdict: 8.5/10 – a casual breakfast experience that does not come at the expense of freshness or quality of dishes on offer

don’t forget to order: poached eggs, hollandaise sauce w king salmon. the generous serving of salmon is a real treat.

to try next time: pecan and raisin fruit toast with ricotta and homemade berry jam

Three Blue Ducks on Urbanspoon

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Wine Wednesdays return to Sydney

When I first moved to San Francisco, I put together a wine bar “hit list” so that I could aim to try one every Wednesday – a widespread concept these days, we called it “Wine Wednesdays”. In an effort to re-connect with the Sydney wine bar scene, which has changed somewhat in the last few years, I’ve put together this list of 10 wine bars that I would like to hit up. Old & new. Every Wednesday…Well, one can only can try.

Wine Wednesdays

In no particular order:

  1. Bambini Wine Room, 185 Elizabeth St, Sydney. Arguably Sydney’s most elegant wine bar, Bambini transports you into a regular scene of a Paris wine bar, with beautiful chandeliers, baroque wall paper and ornate bistro-style seating throughout. The wine list no joke either. Although there is great bar food, if you’re looking for something more substantial, you can go next door to the Cafe/Restaurant. Global wine list.
  2. Love, Tilly Devine, 91 Crown Ln, Darlinghurst. Run by former Quay sommelier Matt Swieboda and former Sean’s Panorama chef Tim Webber, this little gem of a wine bar in an alleyway in an unassuming space puts the fun back into wine. All 300 that are listed on the menu. Global wine list.
  3. 10 William St, 10 William St, Paddington. Owned by the brothers from Fratelli Paradiso, with former Aria sommelier Matt Young in charge of the wine, this establishment is known not only for its stellar wine list but also its delicious Italian-influenced food. Predominantly Italian & French wine.
  4. Wine Library, 18 Oxford St, Woollahra. Another one which combines an extensive wine list with great food. Global wine list.
  5. The Winery, 285A Crown Street, Surry Hills . Arguably the largest spot in Sydney devoted to wine, although there is a whole variety of other drinks and food available in the restaurant. If you can get past the crowds and get a spot, it’s a fun spot to visit, particularly in summer when you can enjoy being outdoors. Global wine list.
  6. Vini, 3/118 Devonshire St, Surry Hills. Specialising in Italian fare, this charming wine bar + restaurant with a changing handwritten blackboard plays a terrific host, satisfying both food and wine enthusiasts. With 250 Italian wines on offer, it’s certainly worthy of a visit. Italian wine list.
  7. Ash St Cellar, 1 Ash St, Sydney. Tucked away behind the Ivy, this wine bar has a very Parisian feel to it, particularly with the wooden bistro-style seating. A great addition to its wine offering is its tapas menu, which can turn your ‘one or two drink’ evening into a night-long affair with bites to nibble on. Global wine list.
  8. Chapter One, Shop 3A, 34 Campbell Pde, Bondi. Cafe by day, boutique wine bar by night, this little nook in Bondi is probably the most inviting on this list – you’ll feel very comfortable in this cozy space with all its colourful cushions. What I love about this place is the focus on sustainable, handmade wines and food that goes well with them. Global wine list.
  9. GPO Wine & Cheese Room, 1 Martin Pl, Sydney. It’s all about the cheese at GPO, evident with just one glance of the menu, which offers 5 flight selections, including the Australian Flight, European Flight and Sparkling & Champagne Flight. These are all paired by the sommelier and fromager with cheese, crackers and quince paste. Global wine list.
  10. Millevini, 397 Crown Street, Sydney. With a name that means “a thousand wines” in Italian, it is no surprise how extensive the wine list is. They don’t take their food lightly either, with a full fledged restaurant style menu focusing on Italian fare. Predominantly Italian wine.
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Chalkboard Cafe – a delight for all the senses!

Chalkboard Cafe – 197 Young St, Alexandria. http://www.thechalkboardcafe.com/

These days, the Waterloo/Redfern/Alexandria area is bustling with scores of trendy cafes serving up some of Sydney’s best breakfast fare. Case in point, the much hyped Grounds of Alexandria, which has given the whole area a buzz to rival nearby Surry Hills for the best Sydney brunch. So it was no big inconvenience when we turned up to Kepos Street Kitchen, the cafe we were originally planning on having breakfast at, to find it was closed. Just around the corner we spotted an interesting looking cafe by the name of Chalkboard Cafe.

Not knowing what to expect, we had little expectations. Being located in the PYD Building, one of Sydney’s leading interior design centres, the CC is a stunning space showcasing a changing display of designer furniture. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the owners are the previous managers of the uber high-end Qualia resort in Hamilton Island.

Menu

What we ate:

  • Breakfast Tasting Plate – miniature versions of bircher muesli, strawberry pancakes and salmon egg benedict ($20): this is the first time I’ve ever seen a breakfast tasting plate. I wasn’t disappointed – what a great idea! This is almost the perfect mix for me – a healthy bircher to start, followed by the staple eggs benny and finish off with a sweet something. The salmon benedict comes on a base of potato cake, which was excellent. I hope more cafes will embrace such a concept!
  • Baked beans & chorizo w rye bread ($17): a very tasty dish, it’s easy to get really full on the beans. I would recommend adding a side of poached eggs, as something felt like it was missing in the dish.
  • Three egg omelette – w fresh herbs, cheddar cheese, toast and a choice of 3 fillings ($16): a very well done omelette, love that you can customise it to your liking.

We had a mix of coffees, chai and juice – all were good, although it would have been great to see the chai come brewed with milk. The coffee is from Double Roasters.

Clockwise from top left: the unique decor, baked beans & chorizo, breakfast tasting plate, 3 egg omelette

Clockwise from top left: the unique decor, baked beans & chorizo, breakfast tasting plate, 3 egg omelette

Really enjoyed the experience…if I stayed a little longer, I may have purchased one or more of the decor on display :)

the verdict: 8.5/10 – the changing breakfast tasting plate & beautifully designed cafe are a clear standout that would give anyone a reason to return. Aesthetically pleasing for all senses!

don’t forget to order: the breakfast tasting plate

to try next time: brioche french toast w caramelised banana, maple syrup and bacon
The Chalkboard Cafe on Urbanspoon

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El Loco at Slip Inn – an interesting makeover to a Sydney institution

El Loco at Slip Inn – 111 Sussex St, Sydney. http://merivale.com.au/el-loco-at-slip-inn/

Having been to Slip Inn many times, I was surprised to find a sign for ‘El Loco’ outside the Sydney institution upon my return to Sydney earlier this year. I had heard about the El Loco at Surry Hills, and being a huge fan of Mexican food, I was really curious to go check it out. One day, a few of us decided on the spot to go there for lunch to take advantage of the great Sydney summer heat and indulge in some day drinking over a casual lunch.

Post make-over/refresh, the Slip Inn has a very peculiar feel to it – a Danish flag at the entrance; the zesty, colourful interior that’s supposed to give the place a Mexican feel; and the untouched historic bar area that has Aussie beer on tap. But somehow, this mish mash works for me – I loved the colourful decor, particularly in the outside garden area, which has an amazing ambiance on a hot Sydney summer day. Midday Friday and there’s scores of people (many no doubt part of the CBD work crowd) sitting around enjoying the sun, some drinks and Mexican bar food.

El Loco

It was clear to me that the specialty was tacos, with the menu having a section ‘Tacos’ and then ‘The Rest’. $6 for a taco seemed a bit steep, but I guess we are in Sydney after all. We got a bunch of tacos, including the camaron (prawn), baja fish, pork belly and breakfast taco – they were all very good, but my favourite was the breakfast taco. How can you go wrong with a combo that includes chorizo, fried egg, guacamole and salsa?

I have a feeling I’m going to be back very soon to try more of their menu, such as the El Loco Hotdog and Cuban Sandwich, as well as a variety of tequila based cocktails – jalapeno margarita anyone?

the verdict: 8/10 – a spiced up Slip Inn with great Mexican bar food & good variety of margaritas – put it on your list for this summer!

don’t forget to order: breakfast taco – full of chorizo and guac goodness :)

to try next time: El Loco Hotdog – House made frank, pico de gallo, mustard relish, jalapeños, mayo, queso fresca on a soft hotdog bun

Slip Inn on Urbanspoon

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Farinha – Italian with a Brazilian twist

Farinha – 222 Coogee Bay Road, Coogee. [No website]

Walking through Coogee one Thursday night, we saw a lively looking space labelled “Italian / Brazlian”. This definitely caught our eye – not only because anything Brazlian is quite rare in Sydney, but also because of the very unusual combination. We sat down and asked for the menu and were told by our waitress that it’s rodizio style – it’s a fixed menu for $35.

You’d be lucky if $35 got you 3 courses these days, so that’s what we expected. Instead, the food kept coming and coming – salads, wood-fired pizza and pasta – and many varieties of each! So much so that we actually couldn’t eat anymore after a few courses. I did find however that the food was more Italian with a Brazilian influence, rather than being Italian-Brazilian.

Brazilian Italian

Farinha is a cool concept – the food was excellent (I particularly liked the sausage wood-fired pizza), the restaurant has a great vibe and sometimes it’s just nice to sit back and be surprised by what’s coming :) My only complaint about the food is that it’s a bit carb-heavy – besides the salad, it’s all pizza and pasta!

the verdict: 7.5/10 – a fun concept done well with great (mostly Italian) food and an energetic ambience

don’t forget to order: just sit back & relax – the food will just come free flowing

to try next time: would love to come back for the brekky

Farinha Pizzas e Massas on Urbanspoon

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The Boathouse, Balmoral – a little piece of paradise

The Boathouse, Balmoral Beach – 2 The Esplanade, Balmoral Beach. http://www.theboathousebb.com.au/

Brought to you by the folks of The Boathouse, Palm Beach and Moby Dick’s, Whale Beach, The Boathouse opened up shop in the old boat shed at the end of Balmoral Beach, previously inhabited by an inconspicuous cafe. What a welcome addition to Balmoral – this is probably the most picturesque cafe I’ve been to in Sydney! Whether it’s the gorgeous location on the beach stretching out to the jetty, the leafy interior landscaping, the beautiful decor with perfect attention to detail, the smiling waitstaff or the fresh produce on display…you really cant help but feel happy when you arrive. It’s almost too perfect…

Boathouse, Balmoral Beach

The place is a little chaotic when you first arrive. Having visited on a long weekend Sunday morning at peak brunch time, I expected to wait about an hour given the state of Sydney brunching these days. I was surprised to learn that you find your own table at the Boathouse – so we split up and within 5 minutes, found a table right by the water on the deck under some shade. Yes, 5 minutes! I actually didn’t see too many people waiting for tables. Next surprise is that you order and pay at the counter – the line was really long, but if you already have a table, this isn’t much of an issue! While you are waiting in the queue, you can admire the produce and decor on display – it’s really not that bad! I was delighted to hear that you can even order half portions – next time I’ll definitely order two half-portions of two dishes so I can try both!

Clockwise from top left: view from the back, the deck, the deck area, the takeaway coffee shop at the back

Clockwise from top left: view from the back, the deck, the deck area, the takeaway coffee shop at the back

What we ate and drank:

  • Smoked salmon w poached eggs, kale potato bake and watercress ($22): very simple, yet absolutely delicious! The potato bake was a very nice addition to your typical smoked salmon w poached eggs brekky combo – I could taste the very freshness of the ingredients. Really enjoyed this!
  • Avocado, tomato, goats curd & basil on charred toast ($18): T had this and she really enjoyed this one – looked mouthwatering! The green (avo), red (tomato) and white (goats curd) was really visually pleasing.
  • Fried eggs w roast tomato & bacon on sourdough ($19): also another simple dish, done well.
  • Tea, lattes: both of good standard, it was noteworthy the tray that the english breakfast tea came out on :)
  • Mango smoothie ($6): I LOVED my smoothie – perfect, complete with a subtle hint of honey. Highly recommended!

While the food itself is very simple, it is executed very well, particularly with fresh ingredients. The service was really good – the staff came to our table a few times to check on us and to make sure we were having a good time.

Clockwise from top left: the queue to order, drinks menu, counter with sweet goodies, beautifully presented English breakfast tea

Clockwise from top left: the queue to order, drinks menu, counter with sweet goodies, beautifully presented English breakfast tea

Clockwise from top left:

Clockwise from top left: avocado, tomato, goats curd on toast; fried eggs w roast tomato & bacon on sourdough; poached eggs w salmon & potato bake; mango smoothie

I really loved my experience at the Boathouse. If you are OK with slightly pricey food and a somewhat chaotic experience getting your table and food, you will absolutely love the Boathouse. Picture perfect ocean views, the energy from kids frolicking in the water next to the deck, the fresh flowers and fruits on display, oasis-like plants filling the sun-filled deck…this is a little piece of paradise. You cannot help feel happy when you come here :)

To me it’s the essence of Sydney summer brunching - now officially my favourite cafe in Sydney!

the verdict: 9/10 – picture perfect with simple food, great service and an amazing ambience

don’t forget to order: mango smoothie & any combo with poached eggs :) remember you can order half-portions here!

to try next time: caramelised french toast with green apple and vanilla-bean ice-cream
The Boathouse on Urbanspoon

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Sydney brunch hit list – bring on the summer!

Brunch is my favourite meal, period. Particularly in Sydney, where you are spoilt for great cafes that really make you appreciate the city’s beauty. Given we are already a month into Spring, I thought I should put together a list of 5 new places to try over the coming months – this list is a combination of inspiration from friends who have recommended great places or just places I’ve read about but haven’t yet got around to trying.

The Boathouse, Balmoral (photo courtesy of them)

The Boathouse, Balmoral (photo courtesy of them)

1. The Grounds, Alexandria: yes, that’s right, I still haven’t been. But for good reason – this place is always packed, with wait times of around 1 hour on weekends. Who wants to wait 1 hour just to have some brekky? I guess many and there’s a reason why The Grounds has won many awards since opening, including best cafe of the year. I’m intrigued to see how the food, coffee and literally “the grounds” can be so good as to justify a 1 hour wait time.

2. The Boathouse, Balmoral: for me, brunch in Balmoral has to date been synonymous with the Bathers Pavilion. However, I am super excited to hear about a new entrant to the scene in Balmoral – The Boathouse, which is brought to you by the folks from The Boathouse, Palm Beach and Moby Dick’s, Whale Beach. Located in the old boatshed, BB looks absolutely stunning and full of character. Cannot wait to try!

3. Panama House, Bondi: two words – heuvos rancheros!! Heuvos rancheros is my favourite breakfast dish of all time, picked up while I was in the US. Fairly uncommon in Australia, it’s basically eggs, black beans, salsa, guacamole and a tortilla all in one – divine goodness! I’ve heard Panama House does a mean one, perfect with their Panama Mary (yes, their bloody mary).

4. Three Blue Ducks, Bronte: I was unfortunate enough to have walked into TBD a couple of weeks ago on (i) a Monday on one of the rainiest days this year and (ii) missed breakfast (I think only lunch is available on Mondays). I was so bummed that I decided I didn’t want to compromise my first experience there, so left with the intent of returning on a perfect sunny day on the weekend so I can enjoy their renowned brekky in peace. Now, I just need to find that perfect day…

5. Bird and Bear Boathouse, Elizabeth Bay: now, this is a cafe that has come up in many different conversations. People love the view!! However, I have heard one or two people complain about the food. Still, I’m curious to see what all the fuss is about – in my opinion, in Sydney we are spoilt for places with great views so no view can justify average food. Stay tuned.

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Youeni Food Store – a welcome addition to the Hills

Youeni Food Store – 2 / 250 Old Northern Road, Castle Hill. http://youenifoodstore.com/

As a regular to The Baron, I was delighted when I found out that a similar cafe had opened down the road by the name of Youeni Food Store. While The Baron is attached to Castle Hill Shopping Centre, Yoeni is in a fairly odd location, albeit adjacent to the Dan Murphy’s store and atop plenty of parking which both get a tick in my books :)

Arriving at Youeni, I was not surprised by the crowd that had gathered there. Seating is sparse – I was lucky enough to get a table outside (Old Northern Rd), but had to request to move inside when another one table became available as (i) it was too windy outside and (ii) the main road was really noisy. The seating inside was a lot more pleasant – the interior has the feel of an open, cosy cafe. The wait staff are incredibly helpful and friendly, accommodating my request to move with a smile and being very patient with me as I held a large table for 4 for myself as I waited for my friends to arrive. Really refreshing to see hospitality with a smile!

There’s a selection of food items available for sale in the small ‘store’ at the side, ranging from fresh veggies to house made muesli. I noticed that the freshly baked bread section was completely empty, so made a note to self to arrive earlier next time to pick up some fresh bread. This is particularly the case given Youeni seemed to become popular from their products:

Everything we can make in-house is made in-house – we bake bread and pastries daily, make our own conserves, and serve

freshly squeezed juices.

The menu is short and sweet, with the last order for breakfast at 11.30am (a bit early for the weekend, dont you say?) and lunch service starting at 12 noon. I was glad we got our breakfast orders in just in the nick of time.

What we ate and drank:

  • French Toast, poached fruits, house-made ricotta, honey, cinnamon ($16): this was absolutely delicious and not too sweet. Loved the combination of the quite sweet poached fruits with the ricotta. Wouldn’t have minded if the french toast was a bit more moist, but that’s being really picky.
  • Roast capsicum, sopresso salami, haloumi & basil on toast ($16): the haloumi is really the drawcard here – who can say no to haloumi on toast for brekky? The serving size did look on the smaller side for the price, however.
  • Coffee & tea: a mocha, cappuccino, latte and tea. The coffee was excellent – I really enjoyed my mocha.
Youeni Food Store

Clockwise from top left: the cafe interior, the simple one page breakfast menu, french toast, toast w haloumi, capsicum & salami

I was really satisfied with my meal and experience (service was a delight!), however, would love to see the menu being expanded to include more variety.

the verdict: 7/10 – a nice addition to the Hills cafe scene

don’t forget to order: french toast – be prepared to have food coma afterwards though!

to try next time: (from the lunch menu) the lamb sambo – 5 hour slow roasted lamb, roasted potatoes, sweet chili mayo, lettuce

Youeni Foodstore Castle Hill on Urbanspoon

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