Colby is the name of one of my two favourite cats in the whole world, and I’m sad that I wasn’t able to bring him with me to Kelby’s Cafe. I have, in fact, never taken Colby with me to a single cafe or restaurant in his entire little life, but I’m sure that he would love running around and stealing everyone’s food.
I’m not usually a fan of shakshuka, but I was surprised to find just how much I liked Kelby’s Kibbeh Shakshoukah. The crunchy Lebanese bread was deliciously light and crispy. The shakshouka was meaty and tasty. The Lebanese stringed halloumi was something I had never had before, and an interesting spin on what is usually just a salty squeaky block of cheese. The baked eggs, chickpeas, basil, and tomato base were all delicious. I liked this dish so much I was hesitant to share it with my partner.
Kelby’s Klassic beef burger is one K away from a cult name, but many more Ks away from cult worthiness. I won’t go too far into it, but basically the beef patty was thick but not juicy, and not tasty either. While seasoned readers of this blog will know that I often complain about too much seasoning, this particular burger had very little taste at all. Coupled with the quite frankly weird dark, floppy and oil drenched chips this was not the pick of the day.
Of note for the hydration fans out there, water was a fill-your-own bottle affair from the chilled filter tap.
Would I come back? Maybe – but probably only if I’m already 90% pho by volume and Kurumac is closed. Would I recommend it? Yes – especially while the shakshuka is still on the menu.
Kepos Street Kitchen came highly recommended by a vegetarian colleague of ours. Naturally we went without him to share a meat-heavy meal before a swing at nearby Moore Park.
The Charred broccolini salad, shredded chicken, coarse burghul, herbs ($18) was delicious. As a group we are not the biggest fans of salad, but all members of our party ended up enjoying it. There is a surprisingly generous amount of chicken tucked in with all the greens and grains.
The Burrata cheese, Persian eggplant, pine nuts, volcanic salt ($22) was pretty good. The cheese was firm on the outside and less firm on the inside, as expected. The real star of this dish was the crusty, freshly toasted bread. Delicious.
The Grilled prawns, chermoula, grilled lemon ($27) came with five prawns. The prawns were quite large and tasty, and the lemon was too (though I was tricked by a colleague into an entire quarter of the lemon pictured in one mouthful by itself). I’m still trying to come to terms with paying $5.40 per prawn though.
Kepos meatball sub, coriander paste, grated haloumi, ciabatta ($18) was very good. Plenty of meat and red sauce on crusty warm bread. Very yum and a good serving of meat. A strong recommendation for this one.
The Arayes pita of wagyu mince seasoned with parsley, onion, olive oil, cumin and paprika, chili tomato salad, tahini, pita ($18) started off good, however quickly we found it to be too flavourful and too saucy. You will recognise this complaint of “too tasty” from many of my reviews, and in this case you can rest assured that this was a view that was held by the majority of our group. I would not recommend Kepos Street Kitchen’s Arayes pita.
Pictured here is a half serve of chips, which were provided complimentary as they had forgotten to make our chips. Even this half serving was quite a lot of chips. The chips were fresh and fluffy on the inside, with a cripsy exterior. They may just be the best hot chips I’ve had in a long long time. There’s definitely something special going on, owing perhaps to a proprietary cooking method. At $7 (for twice the chips listed) I would give them a go.
Pretty much everything we had hit the spot. I can recommend.
Nineteen43 is a Lebanese cafe in Rockdale, only a few minutes drive from my work. I visited for a quick breakfast after a night shift, and a takeaway meal to bring home to my partner.
The Hummus & Lamb ($18), with 12 hour slow cooked lamb shawarma shoulder served w/ Smokey paprika, burnt butter & pickled chillies with a side of fresh baked flat bread looked and sounded like it would be good.
The beautiful plating of lamb floating on a bed of red-sprinkled hummus was really quite appealing – it’s just unfortunate that the taste did not live up to what the eyes predicted. I found the meat to be way too overmarinated and oversalted. It was just too tasty. I had hoped that the hummus would provide some sort of reprieve from the oral salt bath that was the meat, however it itself was also quite tasty. The flat bread was fresh and actually quite delicious, but given the amount of salt in the meal the quantity of bread was just plainly inadequate.
The Portuguese Tart was OK if you’re a fan of the big floppy ones. The filling was quite floppy inside, however I thought that the pastry was actually quite good.
This is the takeaway version of the Breakfast Pan ($23), with two poached eggs, grilled haloumi, sujoq, garlic mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, crumbled feta, avocado and toasted sourdough.
I wonder if the dining-in version really is served in a pan, or merely a plate. I also wonder if the name indicates that all the ingredients were cooked in the same pan, but find that unlikely given that the eggs are poached. My partner quite enjoyed this. She liked basically all of the key components of the meal, barring the feta which she thought was a bit too baa for her. I also indulged in a few choice bites, and can safely say that this dish does not suffer from the sodium load issues of the hummus and lamb. I can recommend this one – a bit like a big breakfast.
I didn’t think I would go back to Nineteen43 after the eat-in dishes above, but given the buzz around their toasties/kaaks I thought I would give it a try. I’m glad I did. The Smoked Wagyu Kaak ($19, chips included) is actual wow. The thin slice of Jack’s Creek smoked wagyu was all that was needed to give the kaak a strong and delicious umami flavour. The pickles, slaw, and harissa mayonnaise added a great tanginess to the smoked wagyu kaak, one that I can still imagine on my tongue now. The chips that came with the smoked wagyu kaak were fresh shoestring fries, however I wonder if it can be ordered without them as the kaak stands well on its own without any need for additional carbs. I can definitely recommend this.
The Sujoq & Egg Kaak ($11, $14 pictured) with cream cheese, Sujoq (Middle Eastern Chorizo), Fetta shallots, & two fried eggs and the addition of halloumi ($3) was good but didn’t quite live up to the standard set by the Smoked Wagyu Kaak. I liked the taste of their sujoq, which I often don’t, and I thought that the addition of two eggs in this toastie was quite generous. The flavours were salty and eggy, just as a bacon and egg or chorizo and egg roll should be, however I found myself missing the zesty taste of the Wagyu Kaak’s pickles and slaw. I’d still recommend this – just not quite what I was looking for at the time.
The Four Cheese Kaak with Pastrami and Tomato ($14.50) was pretty good, but again not as good as the smoked wagyu kaak. I’ve never been a fan of cheese by itself, and I think that the tomato and pastrami were essential addons to the base four cheese. I would rate this above the egg and sujuk kaak just thanks to the freshness afforded by the addition of tomato. I wish I could add some smoked wagyu onto this so that I could have their smoked wagyu kaak for breakfast.
The Lebanese chicken Foldover ($17) with Marinated free range chicken, slaw, Lebanese pickles, harissa mayonnaise dressing served w/ a side of French fries is a weaker offering than Nineteen43’s kaaks. While the kaaks offered a crispiness in the dough, this was not achieved by the bread wrapped around this foldover. The flavours erred towards the slightly-too-tasty side of things and reminded me of the first bad meal I had at Nineteen43, however thankfully this was tempered by the freshness of the Lebanese pickles. The chips in this dish were seasoned with a bit of spicy seasoning, as opposed to coming plain salted as they did with the wagyu kaak. Ultimately not a bad dish but not as good as the others on offer.
Would I come to Nineteen43 again? Yes- it is close enough to my work with enough unlimited parking in the council railway carkpark around the clock (there’s all day parking which was still available around 11:30AM, and also 15 minute parking suitable for takeaway). I would definitely warn any friends and colleagues away from the lamb and hummus (unless you’re on oral salt replacement – in which case eat away), but recommend the kaaks wholeheartedly.
Cafe Mckenzie is one of the new cafes that has opened up across the road from Prince of Wales Hospital. I first ate at Cafe Mckenzie while picking my partner up after a night shift, and then again after an interview (results pending).
My partner really likes the Beef Brisket Hash ($19). She eats at Cafe Mckenzie with her colleagues sometimes and she tells me she’s had the dish five or so times in total. She’s a big fan of potato, which this dish has plenty of, so I think her feelings may be a bit skewed. I enjoyed the fresh radish, which is not something I normally go for. The beef brisket was yummy, and the poached eggs and beetroot relish provided a good balance for the more oily, heavier components. I can recommend this dish.
Mandarin is one of the fruits that I never think to eat, but often enjoy when I try. The menu sells the Lemon Ricotta Hotcake ($18) with raspberry and lemon butter short. It’s topped with fresh raspberries and mandarin, which help to freshen up the pancake. The hotcake itself was soft and fluffy, and the flavours all blended together successfully. Maybe only a little bit too sweet.
The Chicken Baguette ($12) with lemon poached chicken, mayo, avocado, shallots was quite good. Upon general inspection I was worried that the bread would be too hard, but the first bite allayed my fears completely. The bread was fresh , warm and crisp. The chicken filling was mild but good, and the surprise rocket was a nice addition. This baguette reminded me of the first time I had had rocket, which was back in 2011 during an open day at UNSW. I had purchased a chicken rocket sandwich from Biblio outside the Matthews Food Court for the exorbitant (for a high schooler) price of $7, which I enjoyed so much that I started buying rocket all the time for the rest of the year.
I can’t believe how happy I am to spend $14 on a toastie. The Triple Cheese and Mushroom Toastie ($14) with mixed mushroom, gruyere, parmigiano reggiano, ricotta, dijon and thyme is one of the highlights of Cafe Mckenzie. The flavours are complex and delicious, and the quality is very consistent. The pickles on the side were a delightful surprise, and I wonder if it would help for these guys to actually start advertising all of the components of their food. Great for a quick breakfast. Can recommend.
The Lamb Meatball Soup ($17) with freekeh, tomato, lemon, toast is strong, but perhaps the weakest of a very strong bunch. I thought the soup was a bit sour, and we could’ve used a bit more bread keeping in mind just how much soup there was. The meatballs were delicious and I think this would be a good dish on a cold day. The soup and bread actually comes with Pepe Saya butter, which again I feel is worth mentioning on the menu, as it is a premium component.
I am a Cafe Mckenzie Stan. If POW gives me a job for next year I suspect I’ll find myself here very very often. I think they would be perhaps even more successful if they added all of the secret elements of their food onto the menu. There’s no reason not to advertise that they serve Pepe Saya butter, or keep the rocket a surprise. 10/10.