Bianca & Vanessa Braving the Antarctic conditions one Saturday morning, Alex and I made our way over to our old stomping grounds in Leichhardt to WellCo café. Whilst Norton St has been on a steady decline the last 10 years or so, there’s still a great deal of nostalgia attached to the suburb as our grandparents lived in the area our whole lives. So it’s always nice to come across a café that breathes life into what can sometimes be considered a ghost-town.
With a recent menu overhaul we settled in for a rather indulgent breakfast, starting with a round of coffees, a Skim Cappuccino for Alex and a Skim Flat White for myself. We were both impressed with our two rounds of coffees but I couldn’t help but think they were a touch milky.
The revamped menu has your usual standard café offerings but we liked the slight Mediterranean slant in a few dishes. The Big Breakfast w/ Fried Eggs, short cut bacon, herbed chicken sausages, haloumi, green olives, tzatziki and pita was a behemoth that was generous in both size and flavour. The fried eggs were gloriously runny, the bacon crispy and the haloumi remained juicy. The main points of interest were the sausages, tzatziki and the pita. Virtually giving you the option to ‘dip, roll, and eat’. A great alternative to your standard big brekkie.
The Shashuka has now become a staple on many a Aussie café menu and rightly so. Hearty and comforting, it makes the perfect start to any day…especially when done right. The Spanish Breakky –w/ poached eggs, tomato, feta, coriander, chorizo and garlic toast was a fantastically executed version. A good shakshuka lives and dies on the tomato based sauce and this was a great one, laying the foundation for a tasty well-developed dish. Oozing poached yolks, despite freezing conditions and a 3 minute photo-shoot. The feta added bursts of saltiness and the garlic toast being a wonderful complimentary vessel to mop up the sauce. So much better than a standard plain piece of toast.
Our favourite was definitely the Corn Fritters –w/ poached eggs, guacamole and tomato salsa. Hands down and no exaggerations the BEST corn fritters we’ve ever had. You know Bills famous ones? Yep… better than those!! Incredibly crispy, almost ‘tempura’ like. Touches of sweetness from the corn kernels and the egg yolk and guacamole providing some creaminess. Next time I’d order this with bacon and I would be a very very happy camper.
And no meal can end without ‘dessert’ even breakfast… having told the waitress when ordering “We were ambitious”. The Ricotta Pancakes w/ maple syrup, berries and grilled banana were light and fluffy, perfect pancake consistency. I believe there was mascarpone whipped into the ricotta and it made for a somewhat gluggy consistency. I adored the tartness of the fresh berries but felt the berry jam/sauce on the plate was a little haphazard. We would have preferred more maple syrup instead. Still, I kept going back for several bites!
Finally, finishing with a selection of pastries and two juices, our pick was the Delight $7 – w/watermelon, apple and mint.
Honestly I can’t speak highly enough of WellCo and no-one was more surprised than me. Probably one of the best dining options for Leichhardt. I’ve heard great things about the buttermilk chicken burger, so I may need to make a return visit.
Vanessa: When we come across a good thing, we don’t hesitate to return, so when an opportunity arose for us to check out the new lunch menu at WellCo we jumped. As Bianca explains above, our previous experience with the breakfast menu at WellCo had set the benchmark for our expectations and I’m very pleased to say that they were met. This was my first time experiencing the new menu and was very impressed by the choice, the serving size and the price point. We chose a range of dishes from the menu to really get a sense for what WellCo offers its patrons for lunch.
The first thing that caught my eye was the carafe of water that had been set down in front of us filled with lemon and strawberries. You may think it pointless for me to mention the water, however I always appreciate a place that brings you water without asking and it takes to a new level when this water is flavoured with delicious fruit, shows great initiative of their part!
First up was the lamb salad ($19.50), a generous serving of grilled, thinly sliced lamb that sat atop a bed of endives, radicchio, cucumber, olives, danish feta, toasted pine nuts and drizzled with a reduced red wine balsamic dressing. This was a very substantial salad that has a terrific flavour combination with well-balanced acidity from the dressing. The pine nuts add a good textural element and this is a salad that will definitely leave your satisfied.
The chicken quesadillas ($17) were a resounding crowd pleaser. The flat bread was laden with juicy, grilled chicken that had been smothered with melted mozzarella cheese, caramelised onion jam, chilli, coriander and BBQ sauce. The combination of the sweetness from the BBQ sauce and onions balanced off against the chilli and coriander made for an extremely flavourful dish. The chicken was also very moist and juicy which gave further kudos to these quesadillas. Whilst the chilli is visible I did not find them spicy at all, which is great as I’m not a fan of spice .
Moving along it was only natural that we would need to sample the burger options with the “Burger Queen” in tow. Alex and I have a particular penchant for fried chicken and the buttermilk fried chicken burger ($17.5) had our names all over it. A generous fried chicken breast fillet (with a taste slightly reminiscent of KFC) along with chilli mayo, butter lettuce (possibly too much), cheese served up between a soft, seeded bun. Strong flavours and moist chicken with a solid crunch make for a good burger offering in my option. Add a serve of crunchy, well seasoned fries on the side and it’s the icing on the cake.
The beef burger didn’t quite match up to the chicken mainly due to the abundance of slaw that created a rather wet bun. Having said that the beef patty was very juice even though it was cooked closer to medium-well and overall the flavour of the burger was very good. The generous side of sweet potato fries were a collective hit amongst us as they were super crunchy on the outside whilst remaining soft and sweet on the inside.
Lastly, the prawn fettuccine ($18) served with red chilli, parsley, prawns and olive oil. This was a generous serving of pasta with a good helping of plump prawns. Unfortunately the pasta was overcooked which made the dish feel quite heavy when it should be a lighter style of pasta.
Overall, we really enjoyed the lunch menu at WellCo. It is placed highly in our estimations and somewhere that we would recommend for a casual dining option offering good food, decent pricing and substantial serves. WellCo….we will be back!
Vanessa & Bianca
Photos by Alex
*For Food’s Sake dined as guests of WellCo, all opinions however are our own and independent. A big thank you to the lovely Carmen for organising our visit.
Yummm that Shashuka is giving me serious food envy. The perfect winter breakfast!
Yum! Everything is super photogenic. And I thought it was just the times that I was visiting Norton Street but it has been really dead the last few times. What a shame, it used to be the place to go!
I’d be totally torn between the corn fritters and the ricotta pancakes. Would definitely have to get both 😛