In search of a café: Café Marcello, 24 April 2010 & Houlihans, June-Aug 2010

Have you heard me whinge about the lack of a good café in my area? In particular, one which stays open past standard business hours?

There are quite a few cafés in the shopping area of Chatswood but they’re mostly located within one of the shopping complexes and, therefore, are restricted in their opening hours. It’s fine if you work in the area and need something for lunch, but an entirely different story if you have a craving for café food come dinnertime as I often do.

We pop into Café Marcello one weekend for brunch and sit at one of the tables running along a bench seat replete with cushions. This is most welcome as I was nursing a sore back at the time. In need of comfort, I order a pot of Earl Grey tea while Monsieur Poisson goes for his usual caffe latte.

The coffee presents with a swirled pattern decorating the milk foam, of which there is way too much rendering it almost a cappuccino. Flavour-wise Monsieur Poisson is happy with it and coffee is always great for washing down a big breakfast as he has ordered.

The big breakfast comes with bacon, sausages, eggs, grilled tomato, a commercially-made hash brown, Turkish toast and mushrooms which are surprisingly the least oily thing on the plate. I’m craving something meaty so I order the beef burger which arrives with a thick and juicy patty sandwiched between two thin triangles of pide – the burger fillings completely out-proportion the bun, not that I’m complaining.

So, more about coffee. Monsieur Poisson and I also often lament the fact that we cannot get a cup of coffee that wows us in Chatswood. It’s either too weak, too milky, or both. Perhaps it’s the brand of bean being used, or the blend or the roast. So we were understandably excited when we noticed Houlihans – once a sandwich bar of a place – being renovated with the addition of substantial seating as well as barriers sporting the logo for Campos coffee!

We pop in for coffees one evening after dinner elsewhere and I am amused that my husband’s caffe latte is adorned with a love heart whilst my flat white receives but a fern pattern (although a very pretty one at that). I order biscotti with my coffee and can’t help but dunk it into my drink every now and again; the hot milk of the coffee rendering the biscuit soft but not quite mushy.

After being impressed with the size and quality of brunch with a fellow food blogger one day, I return with Monsieur Poisson in tow one Sunday morning. The place is brimming with people and something appears amiss. We are seated outside and are warned that there will be a 20-30 minute wait on meals. We later find out that there had been a disruption to their kitchen gas supply a little earlier on which has resulted in a backlog of orders. Some people get up to leave after having waited too long for their food but Monsieur Poisson and I are happy to sit, chat and relax.

The coffee is better than on my previous visit and when the food arrives it tastes as I remember. Unconventionally however, I have ordered the same thing as previous – ‘Grilled haloumi with avocado, tomato and rocket on sourdough’. It’s like a breakfast bruschetta and the ample toppings shroud two slices of sourdough forming the foundations underneath. My only complaint is that it is smaller in size by about 25% from my last visit and a little less careful in presentation. I assume this has something to do with kitchen and floor staff being completely run off their feet understandably.

The kitchen is also out of mushrooms so Monsieur Poisson is offered an alternative in his big breakfast. He decides on a sausage but when his meal appears, there is strangely only one of them. We can’t remember whether the menu has both sausage and bacon as part of the big breakfast but what really impresses me are the potato röstis which are crisp, non-greasy and ever so mildly spiced.

When Houlihans first reopened its doors they were open for dinner every evening. This soon ceased and had us wondering why. A brief chat with the owner explained that dinner business wasn’t really happening due to the cold weather, so evening service was being limited to Thursdays through to Saturdays only. The café is licensed and they are developing a tapas/nibblies menu which will be launched once the warmer weather sets in and dinner service will resume to being every evening. In the meantime, I’m eyeing off the Wagyu burger which I’ve spotted on their menu with interest…

Café Marcello
Shop 330, 1 Anderson St, Chatswood NSW
Tel: (02) 9884 8183

*EDIT*: As of early 2011, Café Marcello is closed.

Shop 5, 376 Victoria Ave (entrance on Anderson St), Chatswood NSW
Tel: (02) 9415 3300

Opening Hours:  Sun-Wed  8am til 6pm?
                        Thurs-Sat  9am til 10:30pm?
                        (when summer swings around they plan on staying open for dinner 7 days a week)

Houlihans on Urbanspoon

happy eating!


  1. nawww man ive been craving haloumi all week!

  2. I wasn't craving fried chips until seeing this post... now it's all I can think of!

  3. ha- maybe the latte server has a little crush on M.P!

  4. Grilled haloumi is my favourite of the cheeses!

  5. OMG, that little loveheart is so, so cute!!

    And I like the combination of two places (with the extra visit) rolled into one post!

  6. Hehe I thought it looked familiar! I wouldn't mind going back either, the coffee was really good!

  7. Those chips look so good! I love cafe food, especially for a leisurely weekend breakfast in the afternoon

  8. Just dropping by to say I hope you are enjoying the hunter!

  9. Nothing like a relaxed weekend brunch brekky at your favourite cafe. I do believe its my favourite time of the week.

  10. I need to do brunch more often. Wow massive filling on the burger.

  11. quite like houlihans but i've forgotten about going back cos everytime i tried to go, they were either renovating or shut. glad to hear that they're back up and running!

  12. That burger looks awesome. I'm liking the filling to bun ratio!

  13. I'm a huge brunch girl, on the weekend, i'm at brunch. i love that the weather is warming up & brunch will be even more enjoyable!

  14. It's way past breakfast time but I'm hankering for a big brekkie now after those photos. And I'm always impressed by coffee patterns - I'm appalling bad at frothing the milk let alone making patterns!

  15. Hey Chocolatesuze, cheeeeeese! I have half a wedge of smoked cheddar in my fridge brought back from the Hunter =D

    Hey Shellie, I had a great bowl of fries from Houlihan's yesterday afternoon! Lightly herbed, salted with a side of thin mayo-style dressing AND tomato sauce =D

    Hey Gastronomy Gal, he's always getting love hearts in his latte art, my husband! And thanks, just returned from the Hunter a couple of days ago =)

    Hey Jess, oh haloumi! I still remember when and where I first tasted it =p

    Hey April, haha, all the better to try and ease the backlog of posts!

    Hey Fiona, well, a soy coffee for you then =)

    Hey Maria, they'll be opening nights from October onwards and will be adding a cocktails menu!

    Hey missklicious, absolutely love cooked breakfasts! Hope you're having a great time in Singapore and enjoying the food there =)

    Hey Anna, I love the relaxedness of it - just sitting back with a drink and a magazine.

    Hey Sara, brunch is probably my favourite meal of the day, followed by afternoon tea.

    Hey Panda, they renovated a few months ago but may have also changed hands... Definitely a different menu and feel these days, as well as different coffee.

    Hey Betty, heheh, somewhat of a "low-carb" burger? =p

    Hey Laura, I see that go out for brunch often =)

    Hey Forager, I've got a brunch date for two friends' birthday tomorrow =D

  16. Glad you finally found some good places =) It's lunchtime and I wasn't feeling hungry but now I am drooling... =p

  17. Hey Angie, it's always nice to find some local, fail-safe places. And especially for relaxing brunch times!


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