Just Open: El Chapel, Marrickville

There's no shortage of sugar fixes at El Chapel, Marrickville.
There's no shortage of sugar fixes at El Chapel, Marrickville. Photo: Daniel Munoz

You don't have to be a churchgoer to appreciate El Chapel, the new cafe by Marrickville's Two Chaps.

The new venture is a short 10-minute pilgrimage from owner Piero Pignatti Morano's first eatery on nearby Chapel Street and, in the way that parents have way too many shortlisted names for their kids, El Chapel was what Two Chaps might have been originally called. "It seemed fitting for the new spot, a little reference to our beginnings on Chapel Street and a relationship between food and place that we liken to [a] religious experience," he says. 

You can still be a heathen, though, and enjoy what El Chapel showcases - which includes some items you won't find at Two Chaps. There's a mushroom toastie ($12), with roasted portobello sealed in with the heft and ooze of Tassie Tilsit cheese, Dijon mustard and pickles on a seeded, semi-sourdough malt rye loaf. 

El Chapel's pastry experiments include the blueberry morning buns.
El Chapel's pastry experiments include the blueberry morning buns. Photo: Daniel Munoz

"We also have an awesome quesadilla ($12) that we make our own purple corn tacos for. We serve this with sautéed rapini, spicy back beans, our prickly pear hot sauce and smoked fior di latte," says Morano. "In the next month, we will also be offering our own pies and empanadas which will not be on offer at Two Chaps."

Your sugar fix is also taken care of at El Chapel. 

"We recently started making croissants ($4) after picking up a fairly cumbersome old Australian-made dough sheeter off a friend. This has allowed us to experiment with a few simple Euro classics like the lunette, a dainty piece of pastry baked with a dollop of custard in the centre," he says. "Our baked brioche morning bun ($5) is a sneaky alternative to the old faithful breakfast muffin." 

There's still menu crossover with between the two venues, though, and you can also score some of the pastries seen at sister cafe Two Chaps, such as the burnt butter cookie ($4), lime and pistachio loaf, and glazed doughnuts. 

While El Chapel features a small shopfront (and you may have to fight for the tiny number of seats it currently has), it's worth paying attention to this cafe, given the talent behind the menus.

El Chapel makes its own purple corn tortillas and prickly pear hot sauce for this dish.
El Chapel makes its own purple corn tortillas and prickly pear hot sauce for this dish. Photo: Daniel Munoz

Head chef Kim Douglas (who also works at Two Chaps) was at Rockpool Bar and Grill for four years and has also spent time in the kitchens of Bread and Circus, Henrietta Supper Club and Cornersmith. Hayley Thorncraft, who looks after the baked goods, recently came on board from Black Star Pastry. Manager Jo Fairall is masterminding all the drinks (and the "new beetroot hot chocolate using cold pressed beetroot juice is a winner", says Morano). 

Like Two Chaps, El Chapel just happens to have an all-vegetarian menu. (And like Two Chaps, it doesn't make a big deal out of it.) This also means there's also a decent showing of vegan options, too, such as ciabatta with turmeric-roasted cauliflower, hummus, pickled onions and sprouts ($10), raw caramel slice ($4) and a fruit granola cup with coconut yoghurt that's spiced with the Sticky Chai that Morano makes ($8). 

El Chapel is also footsteps away from Vic On The Park and The Factory Theatre, which both host gigs at night, and there are definitely plans for the cafe to get up to some after-dark mischief. 

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"We are still figuring out how the nights at El Chapel will play out. At this point, the aim is to begin in October with a snacky interpretation of our current night menu [at Two Chaps] to pair with a small and keg-only wine and beer list." 

And given that Morano already has two Marrickville venues, plus his Sticky Chai business, does he have any plans to expand further? 

"Let's see if we can make this work before any more projects are undertaken!"  

Open Mon-Fri 7-3pm; Sat 8-2pm 

The vegan options include a chia seed brekkie cup
The vegan options include a chia seed brekkie cup  Photo: Daniel Munoz

373 Enmore Road, Marrickville, 02 8384 8673, facebook.com/ElChapelMarrickville