Café Ism, 17 Dec 2009

I’m trying to remember how Monsieur Poisson and I ended up at Café Ism for a late lunch one gloriously warm December’s day but all I get is complete blankness. We must have been in the area for some reason or other and the only clues the little notebook has to offer relates to the yumminess of the food alone.

This small café is located on a corner shop space with a few outdoor seats and small, low tables more suitable for coffee than food. The inside of the café is small and cosy with stylish French touches and bar seating which looks out the window across to the park. It’s well ventilated despite the heat and is a place I feel I could spend many a good hour at leisure.

We start off with our usual coffees – a caffe latte for Monsieur Poisson and a flat white for myself. Both come decorated with a neat fern pattern across the milk foam and chilled water is brought without our asking to the table. The coffees are aromatic and the right temperature, even on a hot day like this.

Monsieur Poisson has the ‘ISM Burger’ which has a patty of lamb and lean beef, tangy beetroot relish, jam-like caramelised onions, tomato, lettuce, cheese and mayonnaise held in the confines of lightly toasted Turkish bread. The bread is light, doughy and not too thick. And although the burger is not served with fries, it is of a substantial size and has the right ratio between meat, bread and salad all for $14.

I can’t go past the Croque Madame with its promise of brioche and eggs. What I receive is larger than I expect with ham and cheese sandwiched between two thin slices of soft, more-ish brioche topped with sliced tomato, Béchamel and a couple of fried eggs with beautifully golden, gooey yolks. The ample green salad and tomato wedges on the side help to cut through any richness and offers a very balanced meal for the measly sum of $13.

There are magazines and newspapers in the corner that we don’t get around to reading but it’s the food that proves not only to be tasty but great value as well. It’s quite hard to find cafés with meal prices under the $15 mark these days and with this sort of quality, I urge you to try the understated Café Ism for yourself.

Café Ism
187 Wilson St (cnr Randle St), Newtown NSW
Tel: (02) 9519 1166

Opening Hours:  Mon-Sat  8:30am-4pm 

                        Sun  CLOSED

Cafe Ism on Urbanspoon

happy eating!


  1. That Croque Madame is incredible value and who does not love a gooey egg!

    Don't you love it when you go through your note books and wonder why you did not add in those few extra notes, like why was I here?

    A definite try in Newtown.

  2. i'm loving the look of the food and the setting of it looks rather relaxed. i actually prefer my peace and quiet and this place looks like it offers it :)

  3. You have a good memory - if I don't write about something straightaway, *poof*, I forget! That croque madame looks awesome. Must get to Cafe Ism soon (if I don't forget) :)

  4. Oh I love a croque madame and it's always reassuring to see beetroot on a hamburger. Yum!

  5. Good priced meals, and what a temping looking croque madame! So many different levels of tasty tasty gooeyness!

  6. Thanks for this review! A reader emailed me about Cafe Ism and I was wondering what it was like! :)

  7. Oh no, my secret is out! This is my local cafe and I love that it has a perfect balance of undercover love and enough business to keep it open. If I can't get my usual spot next time I'm there due to this glowing blogpost, I'll complain to you!

  8. Hey Sara, I know, such great value that Croque Madame is! We probably get carried away with the food when taking notes and neglect some other factors =p

    Hey Panda, it's such an oasis in inner-city Sydney.

    Hey Belle, my memory's not too bad but taking notes always helps immensely! Which is why I have a list of places to go on me as well =p

    Hey Helen, I usually prefer a croque monsieur but this has me converted! And beetroot is a quintessential Australian burger component, I think.

    Hey Conor, great value and quality food, good coffee and a relaxing environment - such an enticing combination for a cafe!

    Hey Lorraine, looking forward to your account of Cafe Ism =)

    Hey Anonymous, haha, Cafe Ism really is a gem and I'm jealous that it's your local haunt!


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