We are very lucky people here in Australia. We have some of the best beaches, clean air and most importantly some of the best cafes in the world. As part of my day job I get around a lot and eat; but I also find myself entertaining other professionals in the food industry from around the world and regularly hear from them that we have the good stuff. West Juliett is one of the newer cafes to open up in Marrickville and at a glance you’d think it’s just another cafe servicing the well to do suburbanites with great coffee and even better food. Well that’s precisely what it is – however if you dig a little deeper you’ll find West Juliett is actually a very good cafe and has quickly become one of my favourite breakfast/brunch spots. The main problem with any place that is very good is that invariably, word will spread and the masses will come; and with those masses come the queues. There are not many things in this world that I hate more than lining up to get food. I would rather have a car run over my foot than wait +30mins before being seated (I’m looking at you Jamie’s Italian) but there are those rare cases where the wait is worth it.
Like a hoard of brain hungry zombies, every Saturday (they aren’t open Sundays yet) masses of people linger on the pavement in front, shuffling around and playing with their phones until their names are called. At this point I normally step in and grab a take away coffee to sip on whilst I wait. The line looks quite bad every time but it generally moves along pretty quickly. I absolutely love the modern Australian vibe they have taken to their menu. On their Facebook they say its “Simple and rustic food” which is true, but I feel the need to throw the word “intelligent” in there as well – you’ll see what I mean as I go on. FYI this review was completed over about 3 or 4 visits, hence the high amount of dishes shown….Told you I liked the place.
So when I mentioned that I thought West Juliett was smart in its approach to the menu, this dish amongst many is what I had in mind. The poached eggs with dukkah ($14.9) is a celebration of modern Sydney. You have the avocado with feta, parsley, crest and lemon that are really fresh, yet the overtones that the dukkah hits when combined with the yolky eggs is simply genius. Growing up in the culinary hub that is 1990’s Bankstown it shouldn’t surprise you that I know my way around Arab cuisine quite well, but let me quickly explain what dukkah is. If you throw a bunch of roasted nuts, say almonds, hazelnuts and pine nuts, etc into a food processor with some cumin, caraway seeds, turmeric, coriander and sesame seeds you would have yourself some dukkah. Of course the recipes vary from family to family but it’s essentially a nutty spice mix which goes great with bread dipped in olive oil or rubbed into some lamb before roasting. The fact that they’ve included it in this simple poached egg dish shows a level of understanding that I really like.
Sometimes the classics are the best and there is nothing better than a plate of creamy scrambled eggs, but I (as I’m sure you have too) have been heartbroken many a time by the sight of dry, lumpy, yellow gruel. I’ve ordered the soft scrambled eggs ($15.9) a few times and every time I’ve received a perfect plate of soft scrambled eggs – it’s not too often you actually get what you paid for. Also on the plate you get lashings of cured salmon that provide the saltiness to cut through the creaminess of the yoghurt which comes with the eggs. The fennel and sorrel provide a fresh crunch and change of texture which is another clever move in that it makes the dish feel quite light overall. In short, I’ve eaten this for breakfast a multitude of times and haven’t gotten sick of it and will most likely order it next time I go.
Not much to say about their coffee other than it’s great -actually I’m lying, there is more to say. The house blend is from White Horse in Sutherland who do a great job in their own cafe and roast their own beans. The flavour profile is medium to light with speckles of spice and floral notes; personally I like my roasts deep, punchy and complex but I can also appreciate the intricacies that the lighter roasts have going for them.
So let’s say you’ve had breakfast somewhere already and are cruising past Marrickville closer to lunch time and your stomach makes that “feed me” noise – do something new and bypass the overpriced Vietnamese food (except for Marrickville pork rolls) because West Juliett is not just a breakfast cafe. The grass fed burger ($13.90) is a solid effort in the scheme of Sydney burgers. A thick well seasoned juicy beef patty, butter lettuce, pickles with cheese, bacon ($2) and aioli – this burger is definitely up there in the cafe burger category however the beetroot relish was a little too wet which resulted in some “bun leakage” which I’m not a fan of, still I’d order it again but without the relish cause it doesn’t need it in my humble opinion.
Now for those that want to eat a salad but don’t want to be hungry 20 minutes later, West Juliett offers a great twelve hour roasted pork salad ($15.9). Normally I, like many guys out there, would opt for a sandwich if choosing to eat healthy/light but this salad changes the game. It wasn’t just about the generous portion of fantastically tender pork; I truly enjoyed the mix of fennel, cabbage, apple, Kohlrabi (similar to radish), parmesan and pine nuts. The best way I could describe why I liked the salad and why it was different to every other “cafe salad” I’ve had is that each forkful was a lively and had character; saltiness from the parmesan and a little bit of sweetness from the apple in one bite, then a little bit of crunch from the cabbage and some spiciness from the fennel. This is what a salad should be as one can only eat so many mediocre chicken Caesar salads. I’m a guy and I like “guy” food but I would not hesitate to order this salad.
I know not too many people would agree with me here but I’m just going to go ahead and say it – Carrot cake is the best cake! (Dare to debate with me? Feel free to leave a comment but I’m going to win) So when I first peered over at the bakery display of items which are all made in-house and saw the itty bitty carrot cake ($4) I ordered it faster than a single guy orders a third lychee martini for the drunk girl at a bar. The only difference here is that I would not wake up with regret after spending the night with this carrot cake. I’ve eaten carrot cake at almost every established bakery/cafe/cake shop in Sydney that serves it and I bet you want to know where this was on the list. It’s not the absolute best in I’ve had but it still scores quite high on the list coming in at #3. I’ll tell you about #1 and #2 sometime and yes – my brain can instantaneously rank carrot cakes from best to worse as I eat them. It was moist with amazing texture, density and a lovely cream cheese icing – everything a top notch carrot cake should be. If you are lover of carrot cakes then definitely give it a go – if you are not a fan of carrot cake then you need to see a doctor.
The pink salt chocolate chip cookie ($3.8) has a lot of hype surrounding it because of Instagram. Isn’t it funny how things get #instahyped these days? Nevertheless the heaping stacks of cookies were enough to convince me to buy one and it indeed lived up to the hype. It edges were crispy, the centre remained soft and chewy while the sweetness of the chocolate was balanced with the pink salt; but for 20 cents more I’d be all over that carrot cake – that’s the last I’ll talk about the carrot cake I swear. This cookie is what all cookies should be bench marked on so it’s definitely worth a try if you are after a small treat.
The space itself is nice enough and I did notice many people eating outside with their dogs, so that’s something to consider if you want to have breakfast with your furry little friend (not the drunk girl on her 3rd lychee martini). Like I mentioned earlier, there aren’t too many places that I’m happy to go to knowing that there will be a wait before I can get a table. However for West Juliett I’m ok with it – you’ll know who I am, just look for the sleepy guy slumped on the gutter slipping on a piccolo.
30 Llewellyn Street, Marrickville, NSW 2204
Phone: (02) 9519 0101