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Kafenes Cafe Restaurant

When most people think of a cafe, certain preconceived notions come to mind. The heady aroma of the brewed coffee; the hiss & gurgle of the steam nozzle as it froths and heats jugs of milk.

With the ubiquity of espresso machines and the cafe culture that is built on the foundation of these devices, you can sometimes takes for granted that coffee can be produced and served in other ways.

As pleasantly surprised as I was about the presentation of what amounts to be a Turkish-style coffee, I didn’t actually come for the coffee. What I was actually after was some Greek food, and Kafenes is not a bad place for it.

When I think of Marrickville, there are two primary cultural groups that come to mind – the Vietnamese and the Greek. Aside from a couple of fine yeeros stores, to my surprise, there weren’t that many Greek restaurants around.

Not wanting to end my brief house sitting stint in Marrickville without a proper Greek meal, and having been very disappointed with lunch at the Corinthian Rotisserie (though I take some responsibility for that – a story for another time), I made my way just outside of Marrickville to Kafenes, a Greek cafe/restaurant in Enmore, close to the outer fringes of Newtown’s food district.

Kafenes, which follows the theme of businesses with unimaginative literal names related to what they serve, translates to “small coffee house that serves mezedes“, according to the introduction on the restaurant’s menu. Mezedes are small plates of food, similar in fashion to mezze or tapas.

Though there are a number such mezedes on the menu, listed primarily under Appetisers, I’d stuck to the tried and true format of the entree, main & dessert.

Zucchini Dumplings ($10) are served with a garlic sauce cut with potato mash, which has a consistency reminiscent of some versions of the beloved Lebanese garlic sauce toum, albeit with a softer texture and milder flavour. The dumplings themselves have a light, crispy crust with a fluffy savoury interior, with an accent of sweetness brought on by the zucchini.

These were good. The garlic sauce really makes this dish for me, but then again I love garlic!

Roast Lamb ($28.00), served with roasted potatoes, tzatziki (cucumber yogurt sauce classically paired with lamb), a cabbage slaw with an oil-based dressing and a standard, run-o-the-mill garden salad.

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this dish. It’s a nice enough meal with a generous portion size. From what I understand, Greeks aren’t generally known for being stingy with food, so no surprise there.

The lamb is quite tender, though lacking a little in seasoning. The interior of the roast potatoes are firm but cooked through. However, the exterior is a little on the leathery side. The cabbage slaw is crunchy & a bit zingy while the garden salad is, well, sort of dull & boring.

This dish looks & tastes like a home cooked meal, much like what I’d expect from a Sunday roast dinner. It’s simple, comfort food, with its unrefined elements lending a somewhat charming quality. Whether you’d want to pay $28 for that experience in a restaurant or not is a question I leave for you to answer.

Though I’m sure that this would be the perfect thing for a homesick Greek person, personally it was a bit of a letdown.

Loukoumades ($8), freshly fried balls of dough (much like a doughnut) coated in a honey cinnamon syrup scattered with crushed walnuts.

Desserts, for me, can make or break the experience of a meal. Have a lacklustre dessert at the end of an otherwise wonderful meal and it brings down the rest of the meal. Have a great dessert after a lacklustre meal and you end on a high. This dessert made my evening.

The loukoumades are crisp on the outside with a soft, slightly chewy interior. The honey & cinnamon bring a pleasant aromatic quality with just the right amount of sweetness, which pairs especially well with the Greek coffee pictured at the start of the post. The crushed walnuts provide a nice textural contrast.

Like the roti tisu at Mamak, ribs at Cafe Ish & South, and fried dough sticks with pandan at Chat Thai, the loukoumades at Kafenes is one of those dishes that will guarantee my custom in future. Perhaps not for a full meal, but certainly for coffee and dessert.

Having attempted to eat what would amount to a meal of two, there was a fair amount of food that was doggie bagged for later consumption. Incidentally, loukoumades cut into chunks topped with vanilla ice cream makes for an awesome late night supper or as a dessert on the following evening.

I’m not going to say which…

Kafenes Cafe Restaurant
149 Enmore Rd, Enmore
(02) 9557 7580

Trading Hours
Tues – Sat: 5:30pm til late
Sun, Mon: Closed

View the heart of food: map

Kafenes on Urbanspoon

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{ 23 comments… add one }
  • Chris January 10, 2011, 9:12 am

    those loukoumades (haha i copied and pasted, it’s too early in the morning to spell=P) look divine. Is turkish coffee stronger than ‘normal’ coffee? I think i’d go just for the little pot, tis cute!

    • Simon January 10, 2011, 11:55 pm

      lol! I know what you mean :)

      Hmm… From memory, it’s about as strong if not more so than a macchiato but it also depends on how they brew it. It has a different taste and mouth feel to it. Thicker, richer.

      Unless they serve espresso coffees (can’t recall), that’s the size you get regardless :)

  • stephanie January 10, 2011, 10:34 am

    nice post! will have to go check it out in prep for my greek trip later on in the year.. the coffee looks amazing!

    • Simon January 10, 2011, 11:57 pm

      The coffee is pretty nice. Does need something to go with it, whether that be the loukoumades or some of the other cakes & pastries. There are a number of them that sounded pretty good.

  • MelbaToast January 10, 2011, 12:48 pm

    I love Kafenes. I’ve been here a few times with various family members and once we ordered everything on the entree menu to share amongst us. It was truly an awesome feast. Haven’t tried their desserts though…yet!

    • Simon January 10, 2011, 11:58 pm

      If you loved their food, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with the desserts :)

  • Gaby January 10, 2011, 4:21 pm

    That dessert looks SOOO good. Specially as you described, with vanilla ice cream and coffee… mmm…

    • Simon January 11, 2011, 12:00 am

      Oh! What about an affogato of sorts with warm, coffee soaked fried dough balls topped with ice cream? That sounds like it’d be even better! :)

  • mademoiselle délicieuse January 10, 2011, 10:39 pm

    Hooray for doggie-bagged dessert/supper! And any type of fried dough, when done well, never fails to please =)

    And you also just reminded me that I have a small tub of toum sitting in my fridge still…

    • Simon January 11, 2011, 12:01 am

      Hopefully it’s still good… :)

  • Mark @ Cafe Campana January 10, 2011, 11:29 pm

    Mmmmm garlic sauce is soo good, but I am not sure how well it would go with coffee.

    • Simon January 11, 2011, 12:04 am

      Good point though by the time I worked my way through the roast lamb, and has a post-dinner breather before dessert, didn’t notice it any when it came to the coffee.

      Having those zucchini dumplings along side coffee though… well, maybe then.

  • Jen January 12, 2011, 5:38 pm

    the loukoumades do look amazing! thanks for the tip off ;)

  • thang@noodlies January 13, 2011, 9:55 pm

    The Loukoumades look amazing… guilt making, but amazing, Simon

    • Simon January 14, 2011, 1:14 pm

      One’s enough if you’re that way inclined. Though, you’ll likely not stop after that first one :)

  • Susan January 14, 2011, 12:55 pm

    Oh it’s a shame that you had a bad meal at Corinthian. I love that place. Their lamb is to die for and their taramasalata is the best that I have had. That dessert looks pretty special though!

    • Simon January 14, 2011, 1:10 pm

      It wasn’t entirely bad and I haven’t ruled out the restaurant entirely. Going into a restaurant with “rotisserie” in its name and NOT ordering meat is hardly a fair way to judge a restaurant.

      However, that experience has at least taught me what NOT to get.

  • Forager @ The Gourmet Forager January 19, 2011, 8:24 am

    Who doesn’t love garlic? And that coffee looks sinfully thick and rich – actually looks like Spanish hot chocolate! I seem to be in Marrickville a lot these days so I’ll have to check Kafenes out next time.

    • Simon January 19, 2011, 10:00 am

      Hmm… Spanish hot chocolate sounds interesting.

      Though I can’t speak for much else, don’t think you can go wrong with the coffee and loukoumades :)

  • joey@FoodiePop February 1, 2011, 4:43 pm

    I found this place over fives years ago while looking for a place to dine before a show at the Enmore Theatre. Like you I found the food mostly home-cooked standard but those loukoumades really won me over!

    • Simon February 10, 2011, 9:43 pm

      Same. Will have to definitely explore the dessert menu further the next time I’m there!

  • Heather February 9, 2011, 10:25 am

    The loukoumades look like they’d spell big trouble for me O:-)

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