Exotic food with lots of variety

part of Winston Hills Shopping CentreGracing the southern entrance of the Winston Hills Shopping Centre is the delightful Café Els, with friendly service and a wide menu that has earned them the title of Outstanding Café in The Hills for 2015.

A large space with two outdoor eating areas, and a big atrium-like indoor area, you are kept well away from the hustle and bustle of a busy shopping centre, but still have the advantage of plenty of free undercover parking.  The gorgeous modern interior design is bathed in the natural light offered by the perimeter of large windows, displaying a leafy outlook that is
calm and inviting.

The café is owned by Matt Elbayeh, who brings a wealth of food industry experience, opening his first café at just 16, and training as a chef in his family’s well known Lebanese restaurant, El Phoenician, a favourite in Western Sydney.

The wide ranging menu covers breakfast and lunch items from an array of cuisines including American, French, Greek, Lebanese, Turkish and Italian.  These influences are found in many modern Australian favourites like the Poached Eggs with Labne, cucumber, tomato, marinated olives, shanklish, sausage and Lebanese bread; the Moroccan Chicken with roasted pumpkin, Israeli cous cous, fresh herbs, pomegranate and mint yoghurt; Meatballs in a homemade Napolitana sauce served with pappardelle and topped with herb pangrattato and parmesan cheese, or the Salt and Pepper Squid with extra spice and chilli aioli.

with slaw and rocket and chilli aioli

with yoghurt and fruit compoteBreakfast involves a range of breads and eggs from omelettes, to poached or fried, or benedict with a choice of bacon, ham or salmon. Those with a sweet tooth will enjoy the House Made Pancakes with maple syrup and Belgium chocolate ganache, or French toast with crispy bacon and strawberry compote. Healthy options include the Chefs Health Bowl of kale, cherry tomatoes, avocado, zucchini, halloumi, poached eggs, sesame and chia seeds with a minted lemon vinaigrette, or the Roasted Granola with yoghurt topped with blueberry or strawberry compote.

Gluten free options are available on most items, and there are some delicious vegetarian choices including the Veggie Breaky Board for breakfast, and the Veggie Burger for lunch.

Grilled vegetables, haloumi, aioli on brioche bun

I love the idea of grilled vegetables for breakfast, and The Veggie Breaky Board serves this up with grilled eggplant, zucchini, tomato and mushrooms perfectly partnered with a thyme infusion. A pleasant surprise on the plate is the crispy kale drizzled with tangy vinaigrette, and the accompaniment of two rich eggs on toast. Add the indulgence of some salty haloumi, and you will be perfectly satisfied until the afternoon.

Eggs with Kale, Haloumi, grilled vegetables and thyme infused mushrooms

Specials pop up on the menu regularly and include seasonal delights like Poached King Prawn Salad, Scotch Fillet with Truffled infused Potato Puree, Sweet and Sour BBQ Pork with Asian Vegetables, or the Crispy Pork Belly on White Bean Puree with Sweet Potato Batons.

Desserts are mostly bakery items like muffins, friands, scrolls, and scones, but they do have the occasional cannoli, croissant or specialty item, so best to check the daily display counter at the front of the cafe. Coffee is from Vittoria but it has been consistently brewed on the many occasions I have tried, and tastes better than you would find anywhere else in the shopping centre.

muffins, scrolls, cannoli, friand, cruffin, crossiant

The friendly staff are always ready to help with any requests, and happily ask about how you liked your food at the end of your meal.  Don’t be afraid to be honest though, as they do welcome feedback and suggestions.  Café Els is open every day and is a great place for families, friendly catch ups or dining alone.  The good news is, that they do take reservations, which is recommended for groups or when dining on weekends.

Café Els
64/180 Caroline Chisholm Drive, Winston Hills 2153
P: 9624 7595
E: cafeels@live.com
Open: Monday to Friday 7am-5pm, Weekends 7am to 4pm