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Friday, July 08, 2011

Mecca Espresso, Ultimo

Mecca Espresso Ultimo had only been trading for four months when it was announced as winner of  Best Cafe in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Cafe Guide.

Since then, business has been brisk at this corner cafe, far removed from its previous incarnation as a struggling Gloria Jeans outlet. The premise has been completely refurbished: a mixture of recycled timbers, bare brick walls and old wooden school chairs that will take you straight back to high school English classes.

Mecca Espresso Ultimo

The crowd is a happy mix of ABC staffers, local business workers and TAFE and university students and staff. Cosy tables for two are always the first to go, but there's usually a spot at the long communal table at the front.

Mecca coffee is worth the accolades - full-bodied, intense but balanced and without any residual bitterness. We've gone through a range of flat whites, cappuccinos, lattes and iced coffees. Even the mocha gets a chirpy thumbs up by the Sugar Addict, revelling in the rare marriage of strong coffee with bittersweet chocolate. The coffee beans are roasted at the Mecca Espresso roastery in Chippendale. A selection of Single Origin roasts as well as a standard house blend are available each day.

The third outpost of Mecca Espresso has been designed "as a destination for the coffee community with an emphasis on education, exploration and experimentation". Free coffee cupping sessions, where the public can sample, compare and evaluate different coffees and their flavour profiles, have been a huge success and are quick to book out.

Smashed chickpea sandwich $10.50
with roasted eggplant, tomato and parsley

The menu is short and sweet. Breakfast is served until 12pm and includes sourdough, fruit toast, panini and prosciutto and cheese crossiants. Lunch consists of five types of sandwiches and four salads, available 12pm til 3pm.

A smashed chickpea sandwich is a shining example that carbs on carbs can only be a good thing (chip sandwiches are another). It's a deliciously textural delight, the smoosh of cumin-seasoned chickpeas served up with roasted eggplant, thick slices of tomato and picked parsley leaves.

Tuna sandwich $10.50
with tomato, egg, capers, greens and mayo

The tuna sandwich may appear simple in design, but it's the little things that make this special, like the good quality fillets of firm tuna, the chunky segments of soft-boiled egg and the briny bursts of capers hidden among the tomato and salad leaves.

Cumin spiced pumpkin salad $13
with roast capsicum, ricotta, mint, baby spinach and mixed seeds

Cumin spiced pumpkin salad is another winner, appearing ridiculously healthy and tempting. Bright green baby spinach leaves, soft chunks of caramelised pumpkin and slices of roasted red capsicum are smothered in creamy ricotta and scattered generously with a crunch of pumpkin and pepita seeds. It's quite a large portion size too - providing a perfect justification for dessert after lunch.

View Larger Map
Mecca Espresso - Ultimo on Urbanspoon

646 Harris Street, Ultimo, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9280 4204

Opening hours:
Monday to Friday 7am-4pm
Saturday 8am-3pm

Coffee cupping sessions are held every Thursday and Saturday at 11.30am. Sessions are free but must be booked in advance (limited to 6 people). Booking information

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Cafe - Le Monde, Surry Hills
Cafe - Single Origin Roasters, Surry Hills
17 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 7/08/2011 02:30:00 am


  • At 7/08/2011 9:14 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Nice sandwiches. I normally avoid bread but those look tempting.

  • At 7/08/2011 9:22 am, Blogger muppy said…

    This place looks great, i wish i was there right now!

  • At 7/08/2011 9:26 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Ooh, I read this cafe was ranked the best coffee in sydney and it does look quite good! I actually work near here and ive never been here.. i must pay a visit next time. The food also looks very healthy which is always a good thing! haha

  • At 7/08/2011 9:40 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Mecca Espresso Ultimo sounds like a wonderful café. The smashed chickpea sandwich looks like a great lunch.

  • At 7/08/2011 9:56 am, Anonymous john@heneedsfood said…

    As a crazy coffee lover I'm a little ashamed that I still haven't made it to this Mecca outpost. Looks like the coffee in the first pic is tearing up!

  • At 7/08/2011 9:58 am, Anonymous Dumpling Girl said…

    I love a good sandwich, and the little details in this cafe like the tulips are just lovely.

  • At 7/08/2011 10:38 am, Anonymous MrsPigflyin said…

    hehe, I have been their customer since the day they open and you will find me there around 10 every work day :P

  • At 7/08/2011 10:41 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I've heard about this place! I love the chairs, they remind me of primary school hehe

  • At 7/08/2011 11:09 am, Blogger Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said…

    Ahhh, how I love a chip sandwich! Or hot chips on a soft roll. With butter and gravy. Ooohhh, gravy.

    But you were talking about chickpeas, weren't you? And coffee. Right, coffee, must remember to drop in here for coffee =D

  • At 7/08/2011 11:33 am, Blogger sugarpuffi said…

    that is the fattest tuna sandwich ive ever seen! so many layers of goodies :D

  • At 7/08/2011 4:26 pm, Blogger Dressed and Eaten said…

    Read about this place. Such a great achievement to achieve the award within such a short period of time. The food and coffee sound lovely. Now if only this was around when I was at uni!

  • At 7/08/2011 8:10 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    When are restaurants going to get in into their thick heads that people hate communial tables?

  • At 7/08/2011 8:42 pm, Anonymous veggie mama said…

    I live in the worst place to get coffee ever! So am very jealous. Am also going to make a version of that smashed chickpea sandwich! I've seen it as a substitute for tuna salad, so I'm intrigued...

  • At 7/09/2011 8:58 am, Blogger KayB said…

    I ventured here twice and found the coffee far too bitter, plus the staff were very rude. All my co-workers have had similar experiences. I'd much rather head up the road for tobys at Pausa cafe or all press at UTS. Or at worst, there is always the ABC cafeteria coffee.. sure to put hairs on your chest! :)

  • At 7/09/2011 9:35 am, Blogger Mel said…

    What a cute looking cafe - pity it's a bit too far to wander from my work.

  • At 7/10/2011 2:43 pm, Anonymous JasmyneTea said…

    I'll have to stop by here next time I visit the Powerhouse! (The only time I'm ever in Ultimo, lol). That pumpkin salad looks so healthy!

  • At 7/10/2011 5:53 pm, Blogger Rainieee said…

    Thats unfortunate KayB. I had a great experience here, dropping in on a Saturday afternoon, business was not so rushed and service was excellent. The coffee was also great for me as I am lactose intolerant and depend on soymilk. As coffee enthusiasts know, dairy milk is always the best for making coffee and soy never really turns out the way a real dairy milk coffee does. However, this place does it really well, nice and creamy with a moderately goodlooking leaf made.


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