Pimp My Plate #18 – Ashfield, Sydney

PIMP MY PLATE is my weekly series of reviews of cafés and restaurants in city and regional areas. My food challenge to have my lunch-or-brunch plate pimped for $18 or less.

‘How hungry are you …. reeeally?’

Harika 

Ashfield is in Sydney’s inner west. It’s an old suburb with working class roots, but like many Sydney suburbs its demographic is transitioning with redevelopment. The sound of building work is its heartbeat as apartment blocks emerge along busy Liverpool Road.

Most of Ashfield’s commercial hub consists of small, independently owned retail stores and restaurants.

I decided to review the busiest café along the main strip, located on the corner of the busiest intersection – Harika.

In Turkish, the word Harika means ‘wonderful, or fantastic’. The staff I met were very friendly and welcoming, and their plates of food generous.

Harika’s menu is a mix of Turkish flavours, with daily specials like Chicken Schnitzels and Burgers, and desserts including pancakes and slices.

As I ordered my lunch at the counter, I noticed a dainty silver teapot set used for serving Turkish Coffee.

I do use powdered Turkish coffee to flavour some of my cooking, but I’m not a fan of the brewed coffee itself so I ordered a more predictable flat white coffee instead.

When my coffee arrived it was a 10/10, which is never predictable. My table gave me a great vantage point of the busy pedestrian crossing outside as I sipped my caffeine and people-watched.

And then for a moment I couldn’t believe what I saw, as I watched a motorist drive into the middle of the crowded crossing. Then, still oblivious to the people around him, he performed a U-turn. Pedestrians looked on in disbelief and so did I. Thankfully you don’t see that every day. And thankfully no one was injured.

How hungry are you?

Boom!  The plate of Kafta Lamb ($15) arrived and it was enormous. This was food to fuel a marathon run. The side salad was fresh and crisp, and the lamb kafta patties were moist and flavoursome. Sauce on the side was a house-made mango-flavoured mayo with a hint of spice.

I knew I could not eat this all by myself, but I didn’t have anyone to help. Would it be sexist to call this a man-sized meal? I felt waves of Food Wastage Guilt as I apologized for leaving half the meal on the plate.

Narika delivers generous, hearty servings of food, and seriously good coffee. It offers variety – flaky French style croissants, Australian favourites as daily specials, burgers, Turkish Coffee, and hearty Turkish breakfasts.

This is the destination for a takeout coffee, or a serious feed, or both!

RATED: PIMPED!  FOOD: 4/5
VALUE: 4/5   ATMOS: 2/5   VIBE: Hearty and generous
HARIKA – Corner Hercules St & Liverpool Road, Ashfield, NSW (7 days)

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Visit me on facebook at Awia’s Kitchen or Pimp My Plate   or tweet me @pimpmyplate  @awiaskitchen

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Pimp My Plate #17 – Broadway, Sydney

PIMP MY PLATE is my weekly series of reviews of cafés and restaurants in city and regional areas. My food challenge to have my lunch-or-brunch plate pimped for $18 or less.

‘Meet you on Broadway’

The Black Groodle – Street food. 

Autumn leaves are falling like stars along Broadway on this rainy morning.

Rain puddles dot the wet pavement like stepping stones that stretch down Mountain Street and straight to The Black Groodle.

A groodle is the name of a very cute type of curly haired dog. It’s also the name of a café offering me shelter from the storm.

The menu hints of Middle Eastern flavours as I gaze at the items scribbled in blue texta on the tiled wall behind the service counter. I can’t decide between Beirut Eggs or the Kafta Lamb Scrambled Eggs so I engage in a minor interrogation with the staff.

For me it’s brunch, or to be honest second breakfast, so I order the Kafta Lamb Scrambled Eggs and take a seat up the back. As I sip my coffee I can overhear a media marketing deal being done at the table nearby me, and I secretly wish I had the equivalent budget to toss around.

From my table I can see the inner workings of the café – cooking, cleaning, and prepping.

Large tagine bottoms without lids are being piled high with salads for lunch service – sweet potato and pearl couscous, chickpeas, and green bean salads.

The coffee is good, which why people queue each morning.

My Kafta Lamb Scrambled eggs with chutney ($13) arrive and I ask for chilli flakes, which arrive without fuss. It’s good. Although a little more spice in the chutney and I’d have added a little less chilli.

In modern times, the right plate and plating can take you on a metaphoric magic carpet ride to the home of the cuisine you are eating. On this drizzly grey Sydney morning, the pretty plate pattern – which looked Turkish to me – did just that.

As I ruminated over my scrambled Kafta Lamb, this Kafka quote come to mind: ‘So long as you have food in your mouth, you have solved all questions for the time being.’ Franz Kafka. I hear you, the food is Middle Eastern and Kafka is Czech, but Kafka is always relevant.

So by the time I finished eating brunch and ears dropping on my table-neighbours’ marketing plan, I noticed the text pen Brunch menu had been replaced by the Lunch menu. If only I could fast forward my appetite.

Lunch goodies on the menu that I didn’t get to try included: Spinach Stew ($14) served with Lebanese rise; Minestrone Soup ($10); Hummus and Beans ($10); Lamb Kafka, and Beef Shawarma.

I’ve heard The Black Groodle also serves a Ginger Turkish delight, and Kanef later in the week, so I’ll be back to try those soon.

RATED: Pimped my eggs  FOOD: 3.5/5
VALUE: 5/5  ATMOS: 3.5/5  VIBE: Magic carpet plate
The Black Groodle – 55 Mountain Street, Broadway, Sydney NSW (7am-4pm M-F)

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Visit me on facebook at Awia’s Kitchen or @pimpmyplate  @awiaskitchen