Tucked within the outside wall of a semi-smelly carpark in Parramatta is a small café serving what is probably Western Sydney’s best coffee, and some very good toasties.
Staffing at this carpark café is quite minimal, with only two people working to serve the teeming masses from the local legal community. The wait for my two toasted sandwiches (which were premade, mind you – all that had to be done was put them in the sandwich press) took about twenty minutes.
This bolognaise jaffle ($10 I think) is probably the best jaffle I’ve ever had, though the only of reference that I have for comparison are those made by my father (he owns a jaffle maker, but has no other formal jaffle making qualifications). The bread was suitably crispy, and the warm gooey cheesy filling of mince, tomato and cheese was warming and full of flavour. Well executed.
The mushroom toastie ($15-ish) was also very good. It was stuffed full of pickles and cheese, which gave it a good tangy flavour not found in all mushroom toasties. The mushroom added quite a bit of bite and chew to the toastie, and I didn’t even miss the lack of meat in it. The one complaint, if I were to nit-pick, would be that the tangy, salty flavours of this toastie might have just been marginally too flavourful for me. Nonetheless, a good toastie.
This soy latte may actually be the best I’ve had in my life. I’m not familiar with all the fancy terms reviewers use to describe coffee, but I know quality when I taste it.
IN CONCLUSION The food was good, and the coffee was amazing. There is an unfortunate dearth of free parking in the area, and the nearest easily accessible free parking is probably in Westfield Parramatta (a 9 minute walk). I also think that given how busy they were on the day they’re probably bringing in enough revenue to buy another sandwich press. This could potentially cut their service times for a toastie down from twenty minutes to something a bit more reasonable. Having said all this, I’d definitely still recommend Western Sydney dwellers pay Homage a visit.
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.