Element6 can be found on "the other side" of the train station - you know, the quiet side. The side without without the Woolies. To me this is the more interesting side - it's always fun to have a rummage in the local Vinnies, check out the store selling tasty Middle Eastern goods...and now there are two new secondhand stores to scour for bargains. Element6's eclectic design really fits in well this with more interesting part of West Ryde. The interior is a mish-mash of interesting collectables and murals - a feast for the eyes.
Element6 serves up such fresh, wonderful and delicious food that VegeTARAian and I visit them twice in three days...and I know we'll be back as soon as they return from the well-deserved Christmas break. So...what is all this delicious food that I'm raving about? Let's take a look...
The menu has a decided Middle Eastern slant to it which suits me down to a tee - the flavours are so fresh and vibrant. The perfect example is the Sultans Sunrise ($5.00) - orange juice with just a hint of pomegranate that is just so refreshing. Just to prove the West Ryde can be hip too the drinks are all served in cute jam jars.
The Sweet Potato Chips ($4.50) are highly recommended to us by our Instagram friend and we'd be silly to pass up a dish that comes with such glowing praise. The crisps are wafer thin and dusted with hint of something slightly spicy, Sumac or Paprika perhaps? They are incredible tasty and very moreish. These are really really GOOD...get them!
Tara and I decide to share two salads and co-owner Hai-Jin has no qualms in pulling the Lamb Merguez Sausage out of the Lentil Salad ($14.00) so that Tara and I can share (which means I get a whole plate of delicious lamb merguez all to myself)! The lamb merguez is wonderful, slightly spicy and thinly sliced. It looks to have been dusted in flour before being pan-fried giving it a nice crumb.The salad on its own is fantastic - a tumble of baby spinach, lentils, Kumera, crispy beans + radish plus feta dressed in a creamy dijoin dressing. This is the type of salad that we could all make at home...but it's always the dressings that stumps me - the dressing really lifts things and gives the salad a zing.
Our other salad is crisp and light - totally perfect for a hot summers day. Crunchy fennel is shaved and paired with avocado, apple, roasted almonds, baby spinach, currants and feta. Fennel is something I love to eat - the aniseed flavour is amazing - but I've not yet been brave enough to use it at home. Its alien shape kind of freaks me out...what exactly do I do with all those fronds and stalks that look like celery? Best left to the professionals I think.
On our return trip we cannot pass up the Sweet Potato Crisps which were just as good as our first time. Tara also orders a Rosewater Lassi from the specials board which was AMAZING. I'm generally not a fan of lassi (an Indian yoghurt-based drink), especially Mango Lassi. I don't enjoy the sour yoghurt mixed with the sweet mango...it just seems wrong to me, but this version was kind of mind-blowing to me. The drink was still quiet sour but the tanginess of the yoghurt was offset by the sweet, aromatic rosewater and a dusting of cinnamon. The flavours seemed less "artificial" than a mango lassi. I wish I'd seen this on the menu as I would've ordered one for myself as it was pretty incredible.
On our previous visit I saw a lot of people ordering this orange and avocado salad with free-range chicken ($14.00). It looked so good that I knew that this was what I would be ordering on this visit. A mound of salad leaves is mixed with orange, avocado, dates, roasted almonds, shanklish and mint that sits atop slices of bread. Again it's the dressing that makes this salad into something wonderful. Shanklish is new to me. At first I thought this was blue cheese from appearance, but Mr Wikipedia tells me that it is a sheep's milk cheese that is often dusted in spices similar to a Dukkah mix (and what's more, I saw it for sale in my corner shop today)!
Element6 is a true gem in a cafe wasteland! The food is incredibly fresh, inventive, wholesome and delicious as well as being far from your mainstream cafe offerings. I felt healthy walking out of here. The service is super friendly - the staff and co-owners (Hai-Jin and Susan) seem really happy with their cafe and this reflects in the food and service. I cannot WAIT to come back and try their brunch menu.
Element6 can be found at 65 Ryedale Road, West Ryde. They are closed on Sundays.