From the front room, Cafe Shenkin seems like yet another of the inner west's oh-so-hip hang-outs - albeit a particularly nice one. It is full of the kind of details that end up in artfully framed snaps on the photo-sharing app Instagram: antique cooking pots hanging from the rafters, a cabinet of decadent pastries, a mocha-coloured wall with a mural of a bicycle.
It takes a glance at the menu to realise that Shenkin is more than just a groovy coffee joint. Alongside the classics (wraps, salads and burgers) is an array of offerings with a distinct Middle Eastern flavour. Some, such as the hummus plate with falafel and pita bread ($16.50), are familiar, while others are more exotic.
The most visually spectacular is the angelita ($17), a pizza-size round of warm, flaky pastry that comes with a line-up of succulent dips and toppings; tangy coriander and chilli, lemony hummus, freshly grated tomato and a boiled egg. When it arrives at our table, the group next to us immediately orders the same.
The bureka ($11), a light puff pastry bulging with mushrooms, onions and potatoes, is hearty and satisfying under its creamy mushroom sauce.
The food nods to the Israeli heritage of the owners, the Haikin family. Arie Haikin learnt to make bread, cakes and pastries at the family bakery in Israel before moving to Australia and opening Shenkin, named after a famous street in Tel Aviv. His sons take care of the coffee, which is excellent. There is also a good selection of loose-leaf teas.
For a cafe, it is not a cheap place to eat but the ingredients are fresh and much of the food made on-site. It's worth paying a few more dollars for something a bit different.
Address 53 Erskineville Road, Erskineville, 9550 5511
Open Daily, 6.30am-5pm; Wed-Sat, 6.30pm-10pm
- 9550 5511
- Opening Hours - Open daily, 6.30am-5pm; Wed-Sat, 6.30pm-10pm.
- Author - Louise Schwartzkoff