In Short: Come to SML Cafe Willoughby if you want a chilled cafe experience. I recommend the karaage fried chicken and you must wash it down with a coffee, you won’t be disappointed.
One of our cool little finds in 2017 was Calibrate Coffee in Roseville. Yes, the food and coffee exceeded our expectations, what I loved though was its location. A cafe that transformss a sleepy suburb into a destination for foodies. We have seen that similarly in Glenhaven with The Tuckshop and in Gladesville with Cav & Co. Now a nondescript street in North Willoughby has been invigorated by the same team that brought you Calibrate with SML Cafe. A bright white washed cafe with Scandinavian touches and a monochromatic black and white theme, it’s compact, minimalist, and clean.
Like Calibrate, our experience at SML Cafe was relaxed. The staff walk around with a smile and others are prone to striking a pose on cue even! On a Saturday afternoon, diners flit in and out but there’s no pressure to quickly order and wolf down your food.
Speaking of food, the chicken salad is vibrant and packed with a healthy helping of ingredients. A medley of leaf vegetables combined with baby cucumber, chickpeas, pomegranate seeds, cous cous, tangy yoghurt, and avo to really fill your tummy. The chicken is gently spiced and each morsel is tender and moist. If you have a hard time ordering salads, I implore to give this one a go as it may just convert you.
If the chicken salad didn’t convert you, then the karaage fried chicken burger will have you reaching for your car keys to head straight over. Even before the first bite I knew I was in for a treat. The aromas of the fried chicken had me salivating. I loved the textures of crispy chicken with the soft lightly toasted bun. Taking in the wasabi kewpie, you may think nothing of it, but count to three and waves of heat will fill the mouth and nostrils. Cabbage slaw freshens the palate for a supremely balanced burger.
Quelling the heat of both the mayo and a warm summer’s day is an iced coffee. It was served in a tall glass with three coffee beans perched on a scoop of ice cream that floats invitingly atop the coffee. Robust coffee flavours aren’t diminished despite the milk and ice cream, and that ice cream is soothing, refreshing, and delicious.
I let Mavis have her iced coffee back, and take in my flat white. SML Cafe uses the same Calibrate coffee blend that debuted at Calibrate and increasingly can be found in cafes around Sydney. It’s as outstanding as what I experienced over in Roseville. A beautiful swan exhibited the milk pouring process of SML’s barista and it was definitely was a precursor of what I was going to experience. I appreciated the beautiful caramel sweetness coupled with smooth creamy textures. Can it get any better than this? It may. Just. Be. Impossible!
Look, if you don’t love coffee I won’t hold it against you, and luckily for you, in our team we have a little one who won’t be trying coffee for a few years yet. Little Sammi didn’t miss out though. No bottled orange juice here, it’s freshly squeezed on order. It’s frothy, refreshing, tangy and just sweet enough. Not long after this photo, we were presented with an empty glass, testament to how good it was.
Chalking up another urban discovery with this little space in North Willoughby. SML Cafe is only five minutes from Chatswood, just off busy Penshurst Road, but it’s a cute little retreat that combines enticing food with ridiculously good coffee and friendly service.