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.
187 Wilson St (cnr Randle St), Newtown NSW
Tel: (02) 9519 1166
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 8:30am-4pm