Gypsy Platter for two $30.00
Mixture of vegetarian goodies, meat loafs
pasta and bruschetta
"A Translyvanian Cafe?" the Pom splutters. He looks at me nervously. "What kind of food do they serve...?"
I give him a pointed look. There will be no blood related products, I assure him. Doesn't he realise that Transylvania is a real-life region in Romania?
In actual fact I hadn't either, until a few google searches prior, but it's important I maintain some modicum of confidence to get him to agree to lunch with me at Cafe Victoria 284. I'd been wanting to try this place for ages.
We make the trek to Chatswood, both unsure what to expect. What we find is totally unexpected. It's an everyday cafe with chairs and tables out the front, polished floorboards that are gleaming with wax, and a display counter filled with a mixture of salads, a cake server on top and a coffee machine off to one side.
Okay so I hadn't really expected fake cobwebs, garlands of garlic and a few vampire statues scattered throughout, but somehow I'd expected some kind of acknowledgement that this was a Translyvanian cafe. A flag perhaps? Even a mere mention of Romania or Transylvania on the menu? Surely this was a unique marketable selling point? It's made me come in search of something different.
Gypsy platter (another view)
We order the recommended gypsy platter for two, a dish that is overladen with a scoopful of everything from the serving counter, it would appear. It's groaning with food, a mishmash of dishes that makes me look like I've just hit the buffet table with a vengeance.
It's a feast of textures and cuisines. Two different types of meat loaves, a mound of mushroom risotto, a bundle of linguine with wilted spinach, a huge slice of chargrilled eggplants and bits of tomato topped bruschetta. On the other side of the scrum is a ladle of bean salad, roast pumpkin and potatoes, and a merry mix of Caesar salad too.
Latke, smoked salmon and rocket salad $15.80
We continue with their famed potato latke. A crispy pancake, made from grated potato and egg, is topped with a folded pillow of smoked salmon, then daubed with a smidge of sour cream and a garnish of capers. Two small salads come on the side.
Despite my best endeavours, we can't finish it all. Three wedges of roast potato lay abandoned amongst a scattered debris of salad.
Dessert is a different compartment and I take ages staring at the three options on the countertop--poppyseed, baked cheesecake and apple strudel--trying to decide.
"The cheesecake, I made it myself this morning," says the friendly man behind the counter. "It's still warm. It's delicious, I assure you."
It's a pained decision. The Pom is looking me quizzically from the table, as if to say, it's only dessert. What's taking so long?
I take a deep breath. "The strudel please." It looks too good to resist.
Apple strudel and homemade cheesecake
The apple strudel arrives with vanilla ice cream and there, behind it, is a tiny sliver of cheescake too.
"I cut you a little piece," our server says with a smile. "Just so you can try."
I'm so happy I could burst.
The baked cheesecake is light and airy, set over a sweet biscuit crumb base. But it's the apple strudel that blows me away.
Within its core is a tumble of fresh cooked apples, firm to the fork but soft and sweet on the palate. The surrounding tunnel is a crumbling mixture of baked sugar and cinnamon, more like a sugary biscuit than any pastry I've eaten. The crust is golden and brittle. I may have even resorted to fingers to pick up every crumb on the plate.
I vant some more. I vant it now.
Cafe Victoria 284
284 Victoria Ave, Chatswood, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9415 3964
Open Monday to Friday 8am-4pm
Breakfast from 8am
BYO corkage $1.50 per person
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7/08/2007 11:38:00 p.m.