Thursday, May 10, 2012

Cafe Ish, Surry Hills

A few months ago The Boy and I become parents.  Foster parents...for the Cat Protection Society in Enmore.

One of our first kittens "Blackie" who was handed into CPS as a stray. She was 500 grams when we got her.
Since March we've had a parade of cute, furry, fluffy, mischievous, playful, sweet little kittens come through our house.

When you have kittens blogging becomes a bit...hard!
They've chewed the books on our bookshelf, broken antique crystal bowls, chomped on power cables, shredded our lounge, pooped on the floor, peed on the lounge and given us no end of joy. We get them at a young age, fatten them up, get them used to being around pesky humans who want to pat them, play with them and cuddle them non-stop as they try and wriggle from our clutches. When they reach 1kg we return them to Cat Protection so they can be desexed and adopted out to their furr-ever home (CPS is a no-kill shelter so everyone finds a home eventually).  Most of the kittens are found as strays so they are shy and a bit freaked out. By the end of their stay they've made themselves quite a home. It's hard to say good-bye.

This is one of our first kittens "Bobble Head" who was found dumped in a garbage bin. Yes, really! Who could do such a cruel thing is beyond me.

Needless to say "the drop-off day" is a sad affair. There are tears (mine, which then sets off The Boy). This time I decided we needed to have something great to look forward to after the drop off rather than returning to our sad kitten-less home.

Our latest bundles of mischief joy...Omo, Spot, B1 and B2.
Enter brunch at Cafe Ish. I've been to Cafe Ish quite a few times for dinner, so I thought it was high time we returned during daylight hours.  This Surry Hills cafe blends Japanese cuisine with native Australia elements and it's a truly unique dining experience.

Chef Josh Nichols used to serve up the most delicious Crispy School Prawns at dinner which I don't think are on the menu anymore. A quick (begging) tweet to Josh a few days before our brunch sees a hot, crunchy bowl of the Crispy School Prawns land on our table (and he wouldn't let us pay for these - so thanks VERY much Josh). The prawns are delicious. Fried to perfection, rendering the entire prawn edible: head, tail, shell and all. They take my mind of our four bundles of joy that won't be waiting at home for us later.  Sigh.

I was having a serious dilemma on what to order. I really wanted the 8 Hour Roast Saltbush Lamb Sandwich ($9.50), but I also REALLY wanted Ai's Freaking Awesome Fried Chicken.  The Boy and I struck a deal and went halves in each dish.  The Lamb Sandwich was ENORMOUS! The door-stop sized house-made bread was delicious - soft and fluffy bread with a crunchy, almost sweet crust. The sandwich housed a generous serving of shredded lamb, dengaku eggplant puree, mizuna, organic fetta and red onion.  For $9.50 this is a bargain.

Ai's Freaking Awesome Fried Chicken ($14.50) is exactly that - freaking awesome!!!  The chicken is super crispy, but deliciously moist at the same time.  It has a great balance of sweet and sour and comes served with Japanese rice and miso soup.  It is seriously good and seriously addictive - I need to go back from more ASAP!

Niecy Poo has joined us for brunch which is great as it stops The Boy and I feeling quite so melancholy about our kitten loss.  She chooses the Kara-age Soft Shell Crab Omelette which is the dish that has really put Cafe Ish on the map as a "must eat" brucnh/lunch destination in Sydney. It's such a creative, left of center dish and it's fantastic.  Deep-fried soft shell crab is nestled up against avocado - both hide within a thin omlette. The omlette is topped with a sweetdressing of shallots, garlic, chilli, soy and ginger dressing and is served with rice and miso soup ($16.50).

Because we are in mourning we decide something sweet is justified as it will help cheer us up (ok, maybe I'm begin a little dramatic but it's a good excuse to eat dessert, right)?  We wanted something big enough to share amongst the three of us and Josh brings over a plump house-made brioche that is filled with jam and served toasty warm! YUM!

We finish this off with a Wattleseed Macchiato, a coffee I've heard a lot about and I'm glad I've finally gotten to try it. It's quite sweet and nutty (a bit like me)!

 Cafe Ish is at 82 Campbell Street, Surry Hills. Phone them on 9281 1688.

Café Ish on Urbanspoon


  1. Ai's Freaking Awesome Fried Chicken looks, well, freaking awesome!

  2. Those kittens are such a bundle of joy. I enjoyed reading all your tweets and see all your photos about the kittens.

    I love Cafe-ish! The omelette is my favourite and also the ribs :D. *sniff* too bad i'm not in Sydney anymore.

  3. Love the lamb sandwich and that coffee looks amazing!

  4. It all looks so good!! Must go asap!

    SSG xxx

  5. So sad you have to return the kittens, but great that they find new homes (there's a regular column in the local paper that features Cat Protection foundlings and this week's is a one-eyed cat and her inseparable companion *melts*). Those Cafe Ish prawns look amazing.

  6. Good on you for signing up to the society!
    I agree, wish those prawns were still on the menu but doubtful cause I remember him mentioning that the prawns get bought out by other establishments willing to pay a higher price :(

  7. Awww, kitties! Lol, it's a great thing you're doing there. And there's nothing like a good meal to cheer you up!

  8. The food looks great but after hearing Lorraine @Not Quite Nigella's experience and a few other horror stories service wise. I've always avoided Cafe Ish. Maybe it's time to see for myself. That omelette looks divine.

    Sad about losing the kittens but what a lovely thing it is that you are doing. And there is always the plus side that you will always have a tiny new kitten prancing about doing cute things.

  9. Those kitties are adorable - good on you guys for doing such good work!

  10. Aw, puddy tats and fried chicken - win!

  11. Those kitties are adorable. Ohhh hullo! I really like the food at cafe ish! I've had one brief encounter. I must return for moreeee

  12. I keep meaning to try cafe ish... Must keep it on my radar. The work cps at enmore do is great. I adopted my cat from there as an adult 3 years ago and she brings me endless amounts of cuddles, laughs and love!

  13. Oh that fried chicken looks yummmmm. I'm always on the look out for fried chicken. Def will have to visit Cafe Ish.

    I don't know how you do it (being foster parents for kittens)....I don't think I could part with the least not without a dramatic scene with tears, screaming and self pity.

  14. Sounds like a very different and interesting brunch menu. Will have to keep it in mind for a weekend catch-up with friends.

  15. You are such a good person to adopt the kitten short term- they are so cute!
    The house-made brioche looks fab!

  16. I don't know how you could stand returning those kittens... you're a stronger lady that I am! I'm afraid I'd adopt them all myself! I'm also afraid that I'd eat EVERYTHING you guys ordered. That lamb sandwich (say that five times fast... lamb sandwich, lamb sandwich...) looks so good!

  17. Oh why helloooooo mega brioche <3!!!! Its such a beautiful thing that you guys did for the fur babies xo

  18. What a lovely think to do ... take those tiny kittens under your wing, temporarily. It must be heart wrenching to let them go.
    I've heard about Cafe Ish a few times recently - must get myself there. A lovely post. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Kittens and soft shell crab omelette makes for the best blogpost ever.

  20. I have read about this place a few times, hoping oneday i can try it. The kittens are so cute, it is great that you are helping out.

  21. Oh my goddd the kittens! THE KITTENS! They are just perfect.

    I adopted Satine from the Cat Protection Society when she was 8 weeks old (and after she was taken back to the vet by the previous 4-day owners [they said she was too crazy]). A fantastic organisation, and you're amazing people for fostering :)

    Cafe Ish is also awesome - great brunch! :D

  22. Gorgeous post, Mel. How cute are those cats? I loved that omelette at Cafe Ish too - a really astonishing dish.

  23. You are so wonderful for fostering these gorgeous little kittens!
    I have to try cafe Ish. I go past it when im in surry hills, and always want to try it! Now more so :)

  24. Oh my god I don't know how you could return them?! HEARTBREAK!

  25. Those kittens are ADORBALE! Love your blog! ;o)

  26. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on the difference between cute kittens and the lamb and chickens that had to give their lives for you to eat your lunch afterwards.

    I'm really not attempting to be negative here or take away from the wonderful job of fostering you are doing, I just fail to see how you can care so much to do a wonderful thing such as foster kittens, while saying you are doing your best to eat ethically in your bio, and in the same blog post talk about how delicious the animals you are eating are. The animals in industrial farming are subjected to far worse conditions than the kittens rescued by CPS every single day, with hardly anyone giving them a second thought.

    I would just be really interested to hear your thoughts on this.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I understand your point - the answer is long and complicated and I am learn more every day - so the comments box on a blog is not really the best place for a lengthy debate.

      To answer your question however, the meat that I choose eat has been ethically raised on pasture-raised farms. The meat at this cafe comes from Urban Food Market in Marrickville - an ethical butcher. I never knowingly eat meat that comes from a factory farm. If the options presented to me a restaurant are not ethical choices I don't eat meat. I love animals, and yes I could choose to be a vegan. Instead I choose to support small farms whose farming practices are free-range & pasture fed animals. The more people who support these farms hopefully the more widespread they will become. The world is never going to stop eating meat - but we should all be making more humane choices.

      I ask a lot of questions of the restaurants I eat at and the suppliers I buy my meat from. If more people supported these smaller produces then hopefully factory farming will decline and become non-existent. You may argue that eating meat is unethical, I say that raising meat as an industrial product is unethical. If the animal is been raised in a way that allows it to express its natural behaviours and is killed in the most humane way possible I support that industry.

    2. Thanks for the response, I think it's great that you ask these questions of the places you visit, and many more people should do so.

      I never suggested you become vegan or that eating meat is unethical, or within my question purported to start a debate, purely just interested in how different people distinguish between one animal to the next. Inherently this comes up a lot in our food choices.

    3. It's a good debate to have, just one that is difficult to have in this forum. An Australian Academic has just published her PhD on the topic you raise ( why we eat some animals and not others. I think if an animal is ethcially raised I would eat it - I had Alpaca recently, you know "cute" fuzzy Alpaca. It was ethically raised so I really had to put my money where my mouth is and try's cute, but so is a lamb and a pig.


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