Vanessa: As I’m someone who loves to eat out for breakfast, I’m always excited when I hear about an establishment that offers a menu with unique breakfast options. Having heard rumblings of a new entry into Marrickville’s thriving café scene, hubby (Mr. M) and I made a beeline over to Illi Hill this past sunny Sunday.
Illi Hill is an unassuming eatery situated opposite The Henson on Illawara Rd. The space was originally home to a local fruit shop with some features still visible within the café now, including the large scales and signage on the window. I thought this was a lovely touch and tribute to the history of the location.
We were lucky to nab a corner seat towards the back of the cafe , which offered a great view of the chef’s doing their thing in the kitchen.
Our friendly waiter came over immediately to greet us and brought us two glasses of water. I mention this because being asked if I want water is becoming an annoying question and something, in my opinion, that should be assumed – a trivial thing I know but the gesture was appreciated!
She left us to peruse the all day breakfast menu, of which I already knew without looking what I was ordering. The breakfast menu has some delicious offerings, which makes choosing difficult. Options range from your traditional fair to the unique, such as green scrambled eggs with a mix of crushed peas, baby spinach, feta and basil oil to Jamon Serrano with shaved pecorino, poached egg and truffle oil..just to name a few.
I had come on a mission to try the breakfast salad so although the options were extremely tempting I stood strong. Mr. M went with the enviable choice of ricotta and buttermilk hotcakes.
Mr. M had ordered his usual mocha, which was smooth and made with beans from “The Little Marionette” whilst I went with a fresh juice blend of watermelon, orange and ginger which was very refreshing.
Our order arrived surprisingly quickly given the café was busy and we were presented with two very large meals before us. They were both presented beautifully and were visually very appealing. Once the oohing, aahing and photo taking ceased, we were very eager to tuck in.
The breakfast salad ($16.50) consisted of seasonal greens, avocado, baby peas, fresh picked herbs, almond flakes, lemon zest labneh, poached egg and a serve of toast. What a dish!
This was truly light, refreshing, zesty, tasty….I could go on but for fear of losing you I will stop. The serve of avocado was beyond generous, the use of baby peas added a terrific textural element and all the flavors just blended so well together. Loved it. I am also a salad lover so this was a great combination of my favorite breakfast and lunch ingredients. I felt very satisfied and content when I finished, not ridiculously full..considering the portion size.
Mr. M’s serve of Ricotta and Buttermilk hotcakes ($16.90) were beautifully plated with a dark chocolate praline, saffron poached pear, orange and saffron glaze and vanilla bean labneh. Just WOW!
Visually orgasmic and extremely generous in size, this was a delicious dish and one that is sure to be a definite draw card to the café. The hotcakes are quite thick and dense in texture. So much so that unfortunately, one of the three on the plate was undercooked. There is an element in the dish that we couldn’t put our finger on that gives it a slight donught-esq taste, which added a unique flavor. The matching with the pear and the vanilla bean labneh was the perfect accompaniment. I would definitely suggest trying this, but possibly sharing between two people.
We settled up as the early lunch fans were starting to make an appearance, suggesting the café definitely has a steady flow of patrons, which is wonderful to see after only operating for a short while. In addition to the breakfast and lunch menus, there is also a display counter offering tasty delights for those who fancy a takeaway coffee and treat.
We will definitely be returning to sample more of the options from this little gem of a café!