On a beautiful, sunny, autumn Saturday morning, I was in the mood for a girly catch up and a great brekky. I found both at Raffi's. Down the quiet end of Victoria street in Chatswood and serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, Raffi's seems to be an undiscovered gem in the Lower North Shore food scene. With great and unique food options and awesome interior style; located anywhere else, the place would be packed.
I have to say though, it's not cheap with some of the larger dishes coming in at over $20. Maybe that explains it. The menu is fabulous though. A culinary exploration through the Middle East from the owner's family perspective, and a lot of the dishes reflect that home cooking, traditional flair that comes from recipes having been in a family for many years, modified so many times that their original form has been forgotten.
The decor also transports you to another place and time. Wrought iron chairs are covered with plush cushions, and their exposed brick walls contain candle nooks from which plumes of smoke stain the walls. Arabian night style light fixtures hang from the ceiling; and an array of glass and copper vessels in all different shapes, colours and sizes hold a riot of plant life. The overall effect is eclectic; it's a cross between Middle Eastern and Mediterranean - your grandmother's kitchen and a funky art studio. Basically it's just a lot of fun.
The staff were lovely. Our waitress was friendly and bubbly, and gave us plenty of time to decide what we wanted. After debating between freshly squeezed juices in giant jars and interesting sounding dishes containing ingredients like homemade labne or figs, we settled on something halfway between the traditional and the unusual.
We chose the vegetarian breakfast ($21), poached eggs served on a feta and spinach fritter, and the corn fritters with bacon and eggs ($19.50). To drink we had a skim cappuccino ($3.50) and a mint tea ($4.50).
corn fritters with eggs and bacon
The vegetarian breakfast was a great choice. Accompanied by roasted tomatoes, mushrooms, eggplant and a hint of babaganush, it was a filling and substantial dish. Although one of my poached eggs had a solid egg yolk (over cooked for me), the other was perfectly runny, and the spinach and feta fritter was particularly tasty. I just loved how different it was to my standard breakfast fare.
My friend liked her corn fritters too. The completely barren state of our plates at the end of our meal, a testament to the quality of the food.
In terms of the drinks, the cappuccino was great. The mint tea on the other hand was nice, but a standard bag tea was a bit disappointing. Given the ethnic flair of the food, I was expecting fresh mint leaves (which they had in stock) or at least loose leaf.
All in all it was a great meal. There was a bit of a hitch at the end when we found out that the EFTPOS machine wasn't working, requiring a trip to an ATM, but the staff were very apologetic about it. Would love to go back for lunch or dinner. Nothing like a delicious feast to pep up the spirits!
Where: 104 Victoria Avenue Chatswood NSW
Why: A real culinary adventure
When: Brunch - weekends
Good for kids: Ok - not for outdoor seating as this establishment is on a main road.
Take away: Yes