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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Cafe Victoria, Chatswood

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.

Transylvanian tea

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
Lunch 10am-4pm
BYO corkage $1.50 per person
13 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 7/08/2007 11:38:00 pm


  • At 7/09/2007 7:52 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    OMG all that food just looks so good!

    Note to self: don't look at this blog before having breakfast.

  • At 7/09/2007 12:11 pm, Blogger Liz + Louka said…

    I've been past that cafe often, and thought it was just an ordinary cafe. How did you find out it was Transylvanian?

  • At 7/09/2007 1:20 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    cw, I agree.LOL

  • At 7/11/2007 2:16 am, Blogger Hillary said…

    Did you bring up the Transylvanian thing at all while you were there? I've had potato latkes before but have never seen them served with salmon. I usually eat them with sour cream and applesauce. Looks interesting.

    Were there any other notable dishes you had never seen before? I'm curious about what characterizes Transylvanian cuisine. So many questions :)

  • At 7/11/2007 4:43 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    That gypsy platter looks delicious! I wonder why they don't stress the Transylvanian aspect, that makes it infinitely more interesting to me. I suppose people (including me at first) would expect Dracula and bats flying around etc

  • At 7/11/2007 9:34 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi CW - lol. You should always start your day with breakfast!

    Hi Liz & Louka -My trust copy of Sydney Eats. It's the only restaurant under the category "Transylvanian" :)

    Hi Lin - Or have breakfast whilst you surf :)

    Hi Hillary - I did, but only casually. He just smiled. There weren't any other dishes that were particularly different.

    Hi Lorraine E - I agree. I mean, it's the sole reason I visited :)

  • At 7/12/2007 9:14 am, Blogger Veruca Salt said…

    Platter looks delish. Not scary at all

  • At 7/13/2007 12:32 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Veruca Salt - Never ventured, never gained :)

  • At 7/18/2007 6:35 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I've been to this cafe plenty of times and i must say has the BEST cofee and FOOD around the area of chatswood. not only is it a delite to eat and drink at this exotic place but the owner Peter is one of those characters who will always make you smile. He should do a cooking show.

  • At 7/19/2007 10:34 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi customer - You sound like a happy one :)

  • At 8/24/2007 12:09 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Helen (and others),

    Just letting you know that unfortunately Peter has shut up shop in Chatswood. But there are rumours of another venture in the Eastern suburbs perhaps. Watch this space!

  • At 8/24/2007 1:12 pm, Blogger Liz + Louka said…

    Last time I was in Chatswood this café looked like it was closed down. Shame if it is: I was looking forward to trying the gypsy platter.

  • At 8/24/2007 6:49 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Nicole - Oh no, really? Let us know if he relocates elsewhere. I need more of that yummy meatloaf, not to mention the strudel! Thanks for updating me on this. I appreciate the ground spies :)

    Hi liz&louka - Thanks for letting me know. See Nicole's comment above. Hopefully it will reopen elsewhere soon! :)


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