In Short: The Usual Cafe is an oasis for brunch loving Sydney siders who also love the cosmopolitan vibe of Cabramatta. If you need a coffee hit, this is the place to retreat to. Our tip, try a couple of the dishes on the Unusual half of the menu. You will be rewarded for going out on a limb!
The Usual Cafe is unusual in many ways. Firstly it’s still unusual in 2018 to find quality coffee in Cabramatta. While the rest of Sydney ploughs ahead with cafes that compete to deliver the best flat whites in the country, the south west is still playing catch up. The Usual Cafe definitely delivers on the coffee front. The Usual Cafe does not have main street frontage, and I for one love it’s laneway location.
Its fit-out is unusual in that it’s uber classy. It’s reminiscent of the best cafes you will find in the city. As I posted up a story from Usual Cafe, fellow Coco Viner texted from Melbourne on how impressive the cafe looked. It’s a distinct contrast to other Cabramatta restaurants, where utilitarian spaces focus on flavours over ambience. Usual Cafe has a chilled inner city ambiance with subway tiles and pendants that inject warmth. Floor to ceiling windows allows lots of light in as well.
Like the Weston Eatery in Canley Vale and Papa Do’s Chicken about 100 metres away, The Usual Cafe really appeals to the younger crowd who love their coffee and appreciate Sydney’s renowned brunch time experience and recent love of fried chicken. I loved the novel concept of their menu which is split up into a “Usual” and “Unusual” sections.
I was always going to take a ride on the unusual side and chose the anchovies with fennel, house made white bean puree and watercress salad. Anchovies is a polarising ingredient, you’re either a lover or hater. I for one am a lover, and enjoy the salty, briny flavour of these tiny fish. Sprinkles of chilli flakes add a bit of mouth warming heat and combined with white bean puree and fennel deliver a mouthful of flavour! The fennel really does a great job of refreshing the palate and with a rich coating of the perfectly poached egg, it had me going back again and again. Nanna’s charcoal bread soaks up the egg and some of the puree and itself, it’s a great way to mop the rest of this delicious dish.
To wash down my delicious yet unusual lunch, I enjoyed a carefully crafted pourover coffee. The Usual Cafe source their beans from Single O in Surry Hills. On this visit, I sampled a Rwandan single origin coffee. A first sip reveals a bright and zesty citrus flavour. It’s a medium body coffee with creamy mouth feel. I could taste currants at the finish.
Sitting opposite me, Mavis who usually is the master deconstructer, resists the urge to take apart Mi Goreng Benny and went all in and enjoyed it the way it was meant to be. Now don’t go expecting a bowl full of noodles if you are fried noodles fan, rather it’s all about the flavours in the hollandaise sauce. It’s the unmistakable flavour of kecap manis, and the sweet caramelised flavour of fried shallots that whisks you north west to the Indonesian Archipelago. The sauce blankets two perfectly poached eggs and it all sits on a bed of fresh spinach. The East meets West element is smoked salmon. The gooey egg and hollandaise makes for a rich and delicious accompaniment to the salmon. A generous slice of sourdough, like with the anchovy dish, is perfect for mopping every last bit of this outstanding take on eggs benedict.
For her beverage, Mavis enjoyed a cold brew that is filled to the brim. Interestingly, The Usual Cafe opt for Single O’s Killer Bee blend. It’s actually the first time I have a seen a blend used for a cold brew. I have had the Killer Bee in various cafes, and usually the flavours are sweet, and tropical. In its cold brew incarnation, the flavour is bright and a little more acidic with a smoky finish.
When our little Sammi finds something she loves it’s impossible to for her to try something different. At the moment, it’s scrambled eggs with bacon. She’s drawn to silky smooth eggs that have been perfectly cooked through with a creamy texture. Crispy bacon to contrast with the fluffy eggs are essential and The Usual Cafe’s cooks deliver on her requirements and there was little nagging to have finish her lunch in under 30 minutes. A rare feat!
Not wanting our experience to end, I snuck in a cheeky little piccolo. Like with the cold brew, the milk coffees are made with Killer Bee blend. I enjoy the robust flavours of the piccolo. It’s punchy, yet is restrained by slightly frothy yet silky smooth milk.
The Usual Cafe is unusually good. Service with a smile and warmth in a relaxed environment which contrasts against the craziness that is Cabramatta on a Saturday afternoon. It’s definitely a hidden gem in Cabramatta, and the one I will be telling my friends who love visiting Cabra of this great find!