Sunday, October 10, 2010

Let's do brunch at Cafe Ish

Before I go on, some house-keeping. I actually have to apologise to the owners of Cafe Ish for the following:

1) Arriving at 10:40am instead of the reserved 10:30am time slot and
2) Going on a photo-snapping frenzy without asking for permission.

So ashamed of myself for forgetting my manners. Sad.

Okay, now, to the real deal.

I first heard of Cafe Ish on Simon's blog. The photo of the ribs totally captured me and stayed in my mind. Whatever else he said did not register, which probably explains why I did not understand the dishes that made up their unique menu.

The cafe sits humbly in a conspicuous corner of the busy suburb of Surry Hills.

Walking up the concrete steps through the bright red door, I gingerly (because I was late, embarrassing you know) replied the waitress when approached that I was the 10:30am booking. She showed me to our table and I sat down obligingly. I chose the seat facing the barista, as I did not want to face the road while eating.

I like their feature wall - the one with the kitchen on the other side:

Yes, if you know me, you will know why I like the wall... haha...

I like the crisp layout of the small but well-utilized cafe, which runs a theme of white, red and grey. Each patron is able to sit comfortably to enjoy the food served.

When Audrey and Housemate came to join me after finding a spot for the car, we started with what we were there for: brunch! As part of the Crave Sydney International Food Festival, the cafe is serving a Bush-styled brekkie from 9:00am to 2:30pm on weekends for the whole of October at $25 per person.

The breakfast trifle with "lush yogurt", native berry compote and house-made muesli was promptly served first:

You could see the three layers quite obviously - the white, red and brown. Looking into the wavy glass, you could see the individual components of the compote:

I could distinguish the raisins, sunflower seeds, blueberry and I was not sure if it was the raspberry or rosella, as Monica said. But what I knew for sure is that once we stirred all that up, we could not stop eating it.

Audrey wished she could fit her face into the glass, so that she could lick it clean.Great way to start a healthy Aussie meal!

After the table was cleared, we were served their signature coffee, the wattle macca-cino, which bloggers Billy, Chocolatesuze, lifeis2munch and Monica were raving about:

By the time Audrey and I were done with photos, the coffee was reduced to a lukewarm temperature. Housemate was a little hesitant, as she is not one who drinks coffee but gave it a try, nevertheless. The verdict: Wah, this is GOOD!

A blend of wattle seeds and macadamia, hence the name of the brew, we did not need to add sugar. It was just right and a whole lot more! We absolutely LOVED it! (Note: If Housemate comments positively on a cup of coffee, that means the coffee was fantastic because she hates coffee.) Looks like Cafe Ish managed to convert her (winks).

Then came the main course of kara-age soft shell crab with avocado, shallot and lemon myrtle omelette complimented by garlic, chilli, soy and ginger dressing and watercress on the side. Oh, and a slice of lime for extra zing:

Questions flew out of our mouths: Is that chilli? Wah, it is a little big, isn't it? Can we finish this?

Of course, we can! With its extremely inviting fragrance, how can we not? I cut mine open to look for the crab:

Er, okay, not a very graceful photo of the dish, this one...

There were plenty of avocado pieces but I could not tell the crab apart from the rest of the ingredients until I bit into it. My first thought was: This sauce tastes like the Hong Kong-style chee cheong fun sold at hawker centres back home! Even more so with the sambal-like chilli that came with it. I found the sauce a little to salty for my liking but then again, it was partly my own fault for not asking for pepper or something else to balance it off. Also, being Malaysian, you would have to forgive us when we say that it was not as spicy as the bright red suggested.

I finally found a piece of the crab, which told me that it WAS a crab! No, no, I was not doubting that it was but to find two legs still intact just sent me delirious. Yes, I am weird and I am not going to apologise for that.

I enjoyed the crackling sounds made by the shallot and lemon myrtle mixed inside with the soft-shell crab, as it gave a different dimension to the sensorial experience. The avocado gave a contrasting smooth effect.

We were having a jolly good time when I commented on how creative I found the combination of Japanese and Australian fusion menu the cafe offered to be. Audrey said that it was a little of a confusion, which had me reply, "Hm, then it is a contemporary fusion!" rendering her speechless.

Will we be back to try their other offerings? Hell, yeah! Thank you, Cafe Ish, for a wonderful brunch!

Where is this creative establishment, I hear you ask?

They are at 82 Campbell Street, Surry Hills, NSW 2010. For bookings and enquiries, please dial +61 2 92811688.

Cafe Ish on Urbanspoon


eminey626 said...

OMG!!! this is fantastic!!! i want to try it too

Monica ^o^ said...

lol you are so excited for the crab legs hahahaha !
the yoghurt really wakes u up isn't it ? fresh and tangy :)

Chrys said...

eminey626: yes, definitely worth a try! do go when you get a chance!

Monica: haha, i don't know why i got so excited over a pair of crab legs! but yes, the yoghurt was 'awakening', if one could put it that way.. haha..

Simon @ the heart of food said...


Sorry to hear that you didn't get your rib fix this time around. Still, good food right? :)

josyua said...

ahh the chicks with the retor groovy old schoolcamera that everyone has to have...:P
thanks for popping in and for the apologies.
You should check out our night menu, will explain exactlly where we are going..:)
cafe Ish

Chrys said...

Simon: Haha, I should be visiting them again soon, this time at a time when the ribs are served! But yes, good food, still!

Josyua: Will check out your night menu soon! We'll come with the same camera so that you could tell it's us! Haha!! Thank you for having us!

Anonymous said...

I read a few reviews saying that they were quite mean. true?
i really wanna try this place but after reading some review on being treated nastily..
i'm kinda in between now.

Chrys said...

Mean? I supposed it really depends on what you mean by 'mean'...

For us, it was a pleasant experience. Service was prompt and no fuss. Place was clean and food was great.

Reviews are very personal. They all go by individual preference. Some may enjoy the Jap-Aus fusion menu they serve, some may totally dislike it.

So, I suppose, I'd just say why not just give them a try? There's no harm trying. You'd never know until you try, right?