Review: Cafe Newtown (Newtown)

After last Thursday’s bad lunch experience I was really looking forward to my next scheduled meal out: Saturday post-inspection lunch (yes, we’re still looking for a house). Inspections didn’t go well, plus three out of the four of us had some kind of physical discomfort. After we decided not to have drinks due to our symptoms we started looking for a place to eat that would cater for all of us.

We walked looking at menus without even being sure about what we wanted. Bonnie didn’t feel like having Asian, Alvaro is happy with anything except Indian, Neil wanted something light, I didn’t care too much as long as we went to a place I had never blogged about before.

After twenty minutes or so we arrived at Cafe Newtown and had to get in to look at the menu. Under the pressure of the waitress offering to join two tables to accommodate us, we stayed. It was the first time for all of us in that cafe, which is quite bizarre given that it’s right in the corner of King St and Enmore Rd, perhaps the most walked-by corner in Newtown.

Cafe Newtown

Anyway, we sat down and started browsing the menu, which has a heavy Greek influence. Not surprisingly, Alvaro was the first one to know what he wanted (except for the aforementioned Indian phobia, he’s probably the least picky eater of us). Neil wanted something with lots of cooked vegetables and Bonnie wanted something that wouldn’t worsen her reflux.

I decided to share with Alvaro. Besides the haloumi meatballs (chargrilled meatballs stuffed w/haloumi cheese) he wanted, I chose the Mezze bar salad (rocquette [sic], shaved cheese, macadamias, sweet cherries & balsamic) from the salad specials blackboard and the vine leaves (rice and vegetables rolled in fresh vine leaves served w/grape & almond sauce).

Neil ordered the vegetarian penne after checking with the waitress whether they could add extra veggies. Bonnie chose the pancakes with strawberries and ice cream, surely not a reflux-friendly lunch (surely not a lunch meal, either), but apparently that’s what her stomach was asking for.

We got a jug of tap water with ice and warm just-taken-out-of-the-dishwasher glasses. In such a hot day, the waitress noticed our discomfort and tried extra hard to keep a regular supply of chilled water on our table. I must say that the two waitresses that served us that afternoon were very attentive. That’s IMO the best feature of the cafe.

The first dish to arrive was Neil’s pasta. The serving was huge but unfortunately it wasn’t the heap of vegetables with a bit of pasta he was wishing for, but exactly the opposite. From what I remember, it had tomato sauce, capsicum, mushrooms and sliced onions, and came with a small dip plate full of grated Parmesan.

Vegetarian penne

Cafe Newtown - Vegetarian penne

Next thing to arrive was our salad. The blackboard said “salad bowls” and what arrived was more like a medium plate with slightly high sides. But the salad looked good, so I didn’t complain. We were waiting for the rest of our meal when I noticed something moving on top of the baby rocket. It was green and alive, one of the creatures I hate the most: a worm.

Mezze bar salad ($12.90)

Cafe Newtown - Mezze bar salad

I was so upset I forgot to take a close-up pic of the bug. I just called the waitress and complained. She apologised and took the plate to the kitchen. At that point I wanted to get up and leave, but Neil’s meal was already served and I didn’t want to bother my friends. So I just stayed and tried to focus in my hunger to be able to forget about it and eat.

The rest of the dishes came out next. The haloumi meatballs were more like three chubby burgers. They were nice, but what with haloumi isn’t?

Haloumi meat balls ($9.90)

Cafe Newtown - Haloumi meatballs

The salad returned to our table sans worm (obviously it wasn’t a new salad). I took a deep breath and tried it. It was very nice, the sweetness of the dressing and cherries complemented the sharpness of the shaved cheese nicely. There were no macadamias as advertised in the menu, but peeled slivered almonds instead. Overall it was a good salad, a bit expensive for its size.

The vine leaves were nice, too, especially when dipped in the provided tzatziki.

Vine leaves ($6.90)

Cafe Newtown - Vine leaves

Bonnie said it had been ages since she last ate pancakes with strawberries and ice cream, so she couldn’t really compare and say how good they were.

Pancakes with strawberries and ice cream

Cafe Newtown - Pancakes with strawberries and ice cream

Will I go back to this cafe? Definitely not. Service is good and they do apologise when they have to, but why bother eating in a place with dodgy hygiene (I noticed also that the floors and other areas didn’t look clean) if the meals are average and not precisely cheap?

Cafe Newtown
329 King St
Newtown NSW 2042
(02) 8084 8933

13 thoughts on “Review: Cafe Newtown (Newtown)

  1. I’ve eaten at this cafe before, but it was something different way back then. I walked past it yesterday and wondered about the people sitting outside as it seemed like such a hot & noisy place to eat.

    I suppose the worm is extra protein…and “whole food” as he’s not been cooked or overly processed : )

  2. “I didn’t care too much as long as we went to a place I had never blogged about before” lol since starting to blog it’s been my aim to try different places though they don’t all make it onto the blog.

    Man, I don’t think I would have been able to eat that salad, even after they took the worm away *shivers*

    This place is definately in a high traffic area and we are always passing by it, I guess we havn’t been missing out on much!

  3. Oh HELL NO, they didn’t give you a new salad? That’s bull! You’re not having the best luck… Have you been to Grub and Tucker? There and Bloodwood are really the only places I’ve eaten at on King St, and G&T was pretty good.

  4. I was so happy to see that you had done a review of Cafe Newtown so I could have a huge whinge about it.

    My friend was traveling in Sydney and worked for Cafe Newtown under the table for a few months. They started him/her on 10 dollars an hour, and eventually s/he managed to make her way up to 12. They paid him/her no overtime, and would often work her for 10-12 hours without break.

    Her manager was a bully (though my friend was too polite to say so), and paid no regard to his/her preferences or availability in scheduling her.

    Eventually s/he quit, due the poor treatment s/he received.

    Meanwhile I’ve only eaten there once, and I thought the food was pretty good (breakfast) and the coffee was nice. But considering the waitstaff (and, my friend said, most of the kitchen staff) are paid below award wage, why was the food still so expensive?

    Anyway, thanks for allowing me room to rant.

  5. I went there a few weeks ago, on Australia Day because it was the only place open.
    I ordered a Chicken Shish Wrap, and lo and behold I was served a Chicken Shish Kebab and a few pieces of pita bread.
    The coffee isn’t bad of a morning when time is tight and Black Star is busy, but I’ve not been impressed at all.

    Breakfast there a few months ago, expensive and crap.
    Glad to hear it’s out there, and people know how terrible they are.

    I’ve never had a problem with Corelli’s though – why dodgy?

    1. Oh yeah, I remember seeing the wraps on the menu and then the kebabs on a table. I thought I had missed the kebabs while reading the menu. At Corelli’s my husband was served a salad with bugs (those black ones that are often found in unwashed lettuce). He didn’t complain, don’t know why.

      1. Ugh – I won’t be going back there then.
        Thanks for the head up I really loved their vego burgers but bugs are a serious turn off.

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