Let’s do brunch: Café Ish, 10 Oct 2010

To my knowledge this is the first year that Sydney International Food Festival has featured set-brunch deals adjunct to its well-established Let’s do lunch. Almost all places participating in this weekday lunch event are located in or close to the CBD, which has precluded me from taking advantage of them due to my not working in the area. So with my well-documented love of brunch it was pretty much a given that I would try out at least one of the Let’s do brunch deals, and where better to start than at Café Ish.

This cosy corner café is situated only a short walk from Central train station and offers a native Australian-Japanese fusion menu reflective of owner-chef Josh Nicholls and his cute-as partner Ai. Monsieur Poisson and I turn up early for our reservation due to having allowed extra travel time to account for traffic diversions in place for Breakfast on the Bridge. We are seated at a table by the window and are soon served the first part of the brunch offer – ‘Breakfast trifle of “lush yoghurt”, native berry compote and housemade muesli’.

Presented in irregularly ridged glasses, a base of thick, creamy, tangy yoghurt is overlayed with the capturing red of a native berry compote (Ai patiently explained to us what berries were contained but I’m afraid my mind lacked the concentration to remember due to lack of sleep – sorry Ai!) along with a hibiscus. I’ve only ever seen these sold in jars with syrup and served topped with sparkling wine. The flower is crunchier than I expect, providing a contrast to the yoghurt, along with fresh-tasting crunchy, toasted muesli. I say ‘fresh-tasting’ because it is nothing like the store-bought muesli I have at home, which is usually chewier in texture than this.

Café Ish’s signature ‘coffee’, the wattle macca-cino, is brought out next artfully decorated with a fern for the husband and a love heart for myself. Awww…

Latte art aside, this caffeine-free drink tastes remarkably like a mocha and my husband with the known sweet-tooth doesn’t even need to add sugar! No doubt the sweetness being attained from the nutty flavour characteristics of both the wattleseeds and macadamias used.

The pièce de resistance, which Josh confesses he has never eaten himself despite cooking countless plates of them, is the ‘Kara-age soft shell crab omelette with garlic, chilli, soy-vinegar dressing, avocado, shallot and lemon myrtle’. A trio of salts is served alongside – Murray River pink, green tea and chilli flavours – which I find are not needed as far as seasoning is concerned, but are fun to play around with and try regardless.

A crispy, deep-fried soft-shell crab is encased in a thin egg crêpe along with creamy avocado and chopped spring onions. A small pile of watercress alongside provides crunch with a barely-there bitterness. The segment of lime is not there for aesthetic purposes – squeeze it over the omelette for a refreshing zing as well as an added dimension to the salty-sweet dressing. Fried but not greasy, this is the type of wake-up brunch you want to indulge in to nurse a hangover (not that I had one) with its sense-awakening flavours.

All items featured as part of the Let’s do brunch menu at Café Ish are available on their standard menu. The soft-shell crab omelette is normally $23 itself, making the $25 per head Let’s do brunch offer exceptional value. Food-blogger or not, remember to ask nicely beforehand if you plan on taking photos and, depending on where you’re sitting, you may catch a glimpse of Josh working solo in the kitchen alcove preparing your food with utmost efficiency.

The Let’s do brunch offer is available at Café Ish on weekends only during the month of October, from 9am-2:30pm. That leaves three weekends to try out this value-for-money deal! Bookings are highly recommended to avoid disappointment.

82 Campbell St (cnr Foster St), Surry Hills NSW
Tel: (02) 9281 1688

Opening Hours:  Mon-Tues  7am-4pm
                        Wed-Fri  7am-10pm
Sat  9am-10pm
Sun  9am-2:30pm

Cafe Ish on Urbanspoon

happy eating!


  1. mmm how i love you soft shell crab omelette... oh and you too sunbeam :D

  2. Rita- loveeeeeeee soft shell crab- this looks great. I second chocolate suze's comment :)

    P.S - I NEVER ask before taking photos. Just secretly snap away on iphone!!

  3. the soft shell crab crepe looks deliciousssss~~~ it's so mouth-watery!!!

  4. The two cups of coffee are just gorgeous! I didn't even know they can either do love shape or fern.

    I heard Sake was invovled after lunch? ;)

  5. awaiting obligatory innuendo-laden comment from mr nicholls

    you are my soft-shell, my only soft-shell...

  6. You really would think I'd stop quivering in lust when seeing this, but it still happens every time. Oh geez, I'm glad you got to enjoy it at least, even if I feel like I never will!

  7. Soft shell crab omelette, drool, yum, me wants, now :)

  8. I'm intrigued! I'd love to try that wattle coffee I've heard so much of - and of course the soft shell crab.

  9. It's been a while since I visited Cafe Ish... The crab omelette is tempting me.

  10. Yum yum yum soft shell crab! Sounds absolutely delish.

  11. The omelette looks awesome! Loving your coverage of the SIFF events so far =D

  12. shoot was I meant to leave a comment???
    must be too scared of ninjas
    cafe ish

  13. Hey chocolatesuze, so much luuurrrve...and I love how you leave me comments in the middle of the night.

    Hey Gastronomy Gal, haha, Josh (owner/chef) is a lovely bloke who doesn't mind photos being taken but likes to know what they're for first. I think that's a fair enough policy =)

    Hey JanJan, thanks for dropping by =) Egg wrapped around crunchy soft-shell crab on the inside - bliss!

    Hey Billy, the cups of coffee were so pretty! And yes, there was sake afterwards - all before midday *faint*

    Hey Ninja, your expectations have come to fruition. No innuendo however.

    "You are my soft-shell, my only soft-shell..."

    Hey Conor, come to Sydney! Pop up next time you're visiting Melbourne =D

    Hey Sara, something that'd be too fiddly to make at home and just so much better when someone makes it for you!

    Hey Trissa, the coffee is coffee-ish (no pun intended) without actually being coffee! Rightly intrigued.

    Hey Ellie, haha, when your back is better you'll be able to visit again =)

    Hey Celeste, seriously different from brunch I've had anywhere else.

    Hey missklicious, I'm gonna need a diet after SIFF is over =p

    Hello 'Anonymous', you have succumb to peer pressure! But seriously, thank you for a wonderful brunch capped off with some ace sake =)


  15. Hey Betty, my husband is so enamoured with that omelette that he has been back to eat it without me, haha!


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