Marrickville has a formidable line-up of cheap-eats: pork sausage roll (Bourke Street Bakery), Vietnamese pork roll (Marrickville Pork Roll) and beef noodle soup (PHD).
I dream of the day when I add a fourth to this amazing hit-list. Specifically, I yearn to conquer the gap between a missed-breakfast and a too-long-to-wait lunch.
Illi Hill is new to the brunch scene and has a high Zomato. Just like a chubby Santa Claus that eats your cookies and drinks your milk, is this too good to be true?
Stepping inside, we are akin to two fat kids outside a cake shop. The treats on display are a visual feast: thumb-thick choc-chip cookies, melt-in-your-mouth brownies and ultra-puffy croissants which could double as an edible night time pillow.
Today’s mandate is to try the all-day breakfast. It seems the chef plays with a straight bat to suit the crowd. A breakfast salad sounds interesting enough to try.
The funny thing about Filipinos (e.g. the one I married) is that breakfast is commonly just dessert-in-disguise. Think chocolate porridge, deep fried banana or a pastry laden with butter, cheese and sugar.
Unsurprisingly, the missus eyeballs the ricotta and buttermilk pancakes. I will have none of it and she somewhat begrudgingly elects baked eggs (my 2nd choice). This is a classic yardstick for kitchen competency.
Both mains are served in an acceptable 15 minute window.
Baked eggs in an iron pan and breakfast salad in giant bowl.
Brunch salads can a roulette game, this one with a pretty costly buy-in. Lucky the bowl is as wide as my rib cage…a good start
Breakfast salad with seasonal greens, avocado, poached egg and five-seed toast – $16.50
Sadly I can’t call out particular praise for a blob of avocado. Onto the egg, I question if the chef failed year 3 maths or is missing fingers. Two slices of toast, but just one lonely egg. Either this violates the basic principle of one egg to one toast, or it is an attempt to insult my intelligence (and appetite). No customer should have to cut his (or her) yolk in half.
On the flip side, the leafy assembly was refreshing and I always cheer when kale makes a guest appearance. Flaked toasted almonds are brilliant, as is a zesty lemon dressing. Overall, a refreshing but unremarkable jungle of greens.
Baked eggs, braised white beans, peas, field mushrooms, tomato, feta and toast – $17.50
Head-to-head score between baked eggs and my wife is now 10-0, favouring the eggs. Today was a total egg knockout, meaning I enjoyed a double brunch. My (not so) expert opinion below:
– Positive – high bean-to-sauce ratio creates the perfect chunky texture for a beans-on-toast eating strategy. The giant mushroom is succulent and needs careful rationing.
– Negative – taste certainly not bland, but lacked the ‘kick’ factor. Maybe extra spice would do the trick.
I did end the session with a ceremonious wipe-down of the pan per the below method.
This dish represents my view of Illi Hill. An adept kitchen and an honest attempt to please the crowd. Without a signature dish nor particularly great pricing, I can’t see myself returning.
So is the price of today really worth 8 x Pork & Fennel Sausage Rolls from Bourke Street Bakery? Of course not. My advice is try the aforementioned ‘cheap eats’ before going here.
For completeness, score summary below:
– Food (♦♦♦♦) – good enough not to complain, needs a signature element.
– Value (♦♦♦) – high teens pricing, not happy.
– Other (♦♦♦) – very friendly service, a little noisy inside.
– Overall (♦♦♦)- simple cafe with a moderately tasty but unremarkable offering.
Once again, not a great score so I will show the image of the missus…