Many of us who live in the The Hills area of Sydney breathed a sigh of relief when Youeni first opened. Up to that point, good coffee, and healthy wholesome food, was confined to Sydney locales approximately 35 km east of Castle Hill. Youeni started its life in the city, with cafes in Darlinghurst and Surry Hills, but now it’s home is on the corner of Old Northern Road and Cecil Streets about 200 metres from Castle Towers mall. The cafe occupies space outside Dan Murphy’s cellar, handy for some of you, I bet! The space is an eclectic mix of subway tiles, exposed ceiling, and planters with lots of greenery, and boxes of fruit. Seating options include, space for about 20 outside, 12-14 inside and a couple tables upstairs as well.
The menu has a distinct healthy, wholesome theme running through it. Ingredients such as buckwheat, poached chicken, alfalfa sprouts, chick peas, smoked salmon, and lots of vegetables in many of the menu options. Fear not, those of you hankering for bacon, it’s available as a side.
I start out my experience at Youeni with a cold brew over ice. The coffee is a Kenyan single origin. The flavour is bold with strong berry flavours. There’s a long finish but not an after taste. It’s a refined coffee, smooth and refreshing.
For food, having come off a Christmas binge (and intrigued with it’s name!) I opt for The Chislett. The Chislett is comprised of smashed avocado, chickpea, split peas, roast tomato, basil, and I added a poached egg. It all sits on a 5-grain slice of sourdough toast. The flavours marry well. The richness of the avocado is complemented by the sweet, yet tangy, roasted tomatoes. Both the chickpeas and split peas add a crunchy texture, and the basil provides a nice herby kick.
Across the table is the roasted lamb sandwich. The 4-hour roasted lamb is accompanied with roasted potatoes, rocket, roasted garlic and mayo, and is wedged between two slices of the house loaf. The lamb is tender and nicely flavoured. The rocket adds a peppery punch, and of course no roast lamb is complete without melt in your mouth roast potato. The house loaf is soft, filled with grains, and a super crunchy brittle crust. Definitely a cut above your average sandwich!
There’s a force drawing us into the store. That force is the gorgeous and sumptuous looking salted caramel cake. One bite, and I was blown away. It was pillowy soft, sweet, with a melody of flavours. There’s roasted coconut flakes, cranberries, sunflower seeds, pear, raspberries, and I bet I have missed out a 1/2 dozen other ingredients. People don’t just buy by a slice, they buy whole cakes, and I can see why.
I round off my experience at Youeni with a cappuccino. It’s a bright, white coffee. The temperature is perfect, medium-bodied with velvety textures. There’s a nice, rich froth, yet the full coffee flavour is not diminished in any way. It’s such an expertly put together cup that I wish I had space left for another one.
So for all you in north-west Sydney, Youeni will look after your coffee needs and your waistline won’t be compromised. If you are a vegan, or vegetarian, make this your local, as the menu heavily leans in the direction of a vegetable patch.