Chimichuri Cafe is a cafe in Chatswood that features Instagram worthy twists on cafe dishes. The burgers come sandwiched in black buns with black hollandaise and soft shell crab or the photogenic French toast comes as three silos of crispy edged toast filled with three different types of custard, fruit, edible flowers and a mini Nutella jar!
If the drinks menu seems sort of familiar it's probably because of part owner Marcus George formerly of popular cafe Local MBassy. The main business owner Wiranya "Yaya" Wannawong was the head barista at Local MBassy but opened Chimichuri (sic) Cafe on Chatswood's Help Street six months ago. The reason why it is spelled Chimichuri with one "r" is an aesthetic one as it did not fall with the logo design. Previous to Marcus coming on board the menu was more South American; now there are still a few dishes that reflect the name. The new menu is about one week old.
The cafe has a bright outdoor area which is perfect for bringing Mochi along and it is popular with the people that love taking pictures for Instagram. Marcus estimates, "Almost 70%-80% of customers take pictures of their food."
Drinks come out first and they make lattes in all colours and flavours. We try the matcha latte, red velvet, taro and turmeric. The matcha is my favourite because it's strong in matcha but I also love the turmeric one because it isn't too savoury. The red velvet is really just like the cake but in a latte form and the taro has a comforting sweet taro flavour to it. We all pick our favourite lattes after sampling them all.
While lunch sounded good I have to admit that the all day breakfast items appealed to me the most (and you may want to bring friends because it can be hard to choose). Their most popular dish is the Black Benedict. This is a battered, deep fried soft shell crab, runny centered poached eggs, salmon roe and a house made black hollandaise made with squid ink to colour it a deep, glossy black. It is served on a black brioche bun. It's one of those gloriously messy burgers that you can really get your teeth stuck into with a crispy soft shell crab and runny egg yolk. Be sure to lean in to avoid dripping egg yolk on your clothes (just looking out for you ;)).
Whilst this is a very pretty dish I think that we couldn't quite figure out if this was going to be sweet or savoury. There are halves of fresh strawberry but then there's tomato salsa, creamy feta, fresh basil and an orange infused oil dressing on a slice of crunchy sourdough. Honestly we were confused, I'm not going to lie.
There are two version of mac and cheese, a vegetarian version and this one. As a pork enthusiast this is Viggo's favourite. It's a triple cheese mac and cheese with three types of pork giving this a nice array of textures and flavours from the pulled pork, chorizo and crispy bacon. And we luurve the strings of cheese.
The salmon gravlax is edged in dill and fanned across an orange and fennel salad with a quennelle of dill and lemon sour cream. There's a small side salad with strawberry & berry capers and a spoonful of caviar on top. The gravlax is nice especially with the sour cream and this is a light dish although I found some of the fennel slices very thick.
The calamari is stuffed with chicken mince and served with slices of chorizo with a chimichurri corn salsa and a parsnip and beetroot cream. It's a nice dish and everything is cooked well and really beyond the usual cafe fare although it was perhaps missing a bold flavour or something to tie it together.
But hands down my favourite main is the lamb cutlet burger. The lamb cutlets still have the bone in so it does require a bit of surgery before you eat it but the grilled lamb cutlets are succulent and pink. They're served on a black bun with a delicious onion jam, coleslaw and a mint yoghurt sauce. To the side is a batch of crunchy, spicy fries and I think the addition of fries pips this slightly ahead of the Black Benedict (only because I can't seem to eat burgers without fries).
Then the desserts hit. You know a cafe really prides itself on the desserts when they appear on the first page of the menu before the rest of the food. The French toast is three crispy edged towers of brioche. The centre is dug out in each one and one is filled with Nutella, another lychee ganache and the other berry coulis. There's strawberry gel, toasted marshmallows, elderflower, Persian fairy floss and a tiny pot of Nutella. Our favourite is the lychee ganache which is an unexpected but welcome French toast accompaniment but it's good to have a few different flavours. Viggo is a big fan of this dish and quips, "This is what your dessert would look like if it was a model."
The poached pear is cored and cooked in beetroot syrup which makes the pear pink right to the centre. It is filled with dates and served with a macadamia vanilla crumble and white chocolate ganache. It's not the sort of dessert you'd expect to see on a cafe menu and we all enjoy this rather un-cafe looking dessert especially when you get a bit of everything on your spoon.
Our last dessert is a very wobbly vanilla panna cotta with berry coulis, macadamia crumble, sponge cake and fresh strawberries and raspberries. I liked that the panna cotta wasn't very sweet and the berry coulis is tart as well because it's for those that don't want an overly sweet desserts. The black sesame sponge gives this almost a savoury, intensely flavoured touch too.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you always order fries with your burger? And do you do the photo thing when you eat out and do you use your phone or a camera? Which dish did you think was the prettiest?
This meal was independently paid for.
1/6 Help St, Chatswood NSW 2067
Phone:(02) 8084 5272
Open Monday to Friday 7am-3pm, Weekends 8am-3pm