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Wednesday, December 03, 2014

The Black Groodle, Ultimo

Salad options at The Black Groodle, Ultimo

There's a huge art to a really good salad. Who gets excited by vegetables when there's fried chicken to be had? Even Homer and Bart Simpson declared "you don't win friends with salad". That's where The Black Groodle steps in, a new addition to the cafe scene in Ultimo that's likely to get you all excited about eating your greens again.

Communal table at The Black Groodle, Ultimo
Communal table

The Black Groodle only opened in August this year but has already gathered a loyal following from local workers, residents and students. Its industrial chic like fit-out combines reclaimed wooden furniture, exposed brickwork and eclectic touches like church pews as bench seating. The name comes from the owner's own black groodle (poodle x golden retriever), Jed.

Cabbage salad at The Black Groodle, Ultimo
Cabbage salad

The menu changes each day, written in felt pen on subway tiles behind the service counter. Their menu trumpets "Street food. Local style" although there's a strong emphasis on Middle Eastern dishes. That means marinated grilled meats like lamb kafta, chicken tawook, beef shawarma and falafels. They also run with daily specials: we've seen everything from red bean stew with lamb shanks to cabbage rolls to kafta bil sanieh, a Lebanese dish of baked meatballs with potato.

Roasting eggplants over flames at The Black Groodle, Ultimo
Roasting eggplants over flames on the gas stove

Everything is impressively made on-site. They've got a gas burner stove and oven tucked behind the salad counter, all in full view of patrons. We watch as cakes are removed from the oven for cooling, and eggplants are roasted whole over naked flames.

Potato salad at The Black Groodle, Ultimo
Potato salad

The salad counter is eye-catching with its rainbow of colours. You can let me them plate up a random combination of salads or choose your own, cafeteria-style.

Rice with mushrooms at The Black Groodle, Ultimo
Rice with mushrooms

The choice and range is bewildering, but staff are generally accommodating and will practically let you point at everything if it fits on the plate.

Salad bar options at The Black Groodle, Ultimo
Choosing your salads at the counter

There's everything here from raw crunchy cabbage to soft and tender beans simmered in tomato to carbolicious rice with mushrooms or lentils. It all tastes fresh and homemade with enough attention to seasoning, colour and texture to keep all your senses happy.

Green beans with tomato sauce at The Black Groodle, Ultimo
Green beans with tomato sauce

Kale and chickpea salad at The Black Groodle, Ultimo
Kale and chickpea salad

Lamb kafta and salad plate at The Black Groodle, Ultimo
Lamb kafta and salad plate $14

A meat and salad plate is $14 eat-in or $12 if you take away.

Mixed vegetarian combination salad plate at The Black Groodle, Ultimo
Mixed vegetarian combination salad $14

It's the same price for a vegetarian plate, but mine was piled with so much food I could barely fit in dessert (I said barely). Each plate comes with a dollop of hummus and a side plate of fresh Lebanese bread for all your scooping and wrapping requirements.

Beef shawarma wrap at The Black Groodle, Ultimo
Beef shawarma wrap $9

The wraps are a little cheaper, a round of Lebanese bread rolled up with lamb kafta, chicken tawook, beef shawarma or falafel with salad.

Pulled pork panini at The Black Groodle, Ultimo
Pulled pork panini $10.50

We visited on a day they had pulled pork panini as a sandwich special too.

Pulled pork panini at The Black Groodle, Ultimo
Pulled pork with slaw 

The sandwich arrives ten minutes after the salad but the wait is worth it. The pulled pork is juicy and tasty, crammed into a toasted panini with plenty of slaw.

And the distinctive plates? They're stamped with Kazbah on the bottom but when we ask if the cafe is related, the owner laughs and says "no, we're just cousins. Literally".

Little Marionette flat white coffee at The Black Groodle, Ultimo
Strong flat white coffee made with Little Marionette coffee beans

The coffee is commendable too, using coffee beans roasted by Little Marionette.

Knafeh at The Black Groodle, Ultimo
Knafeh $7

Save space for dessert. I manage to squeeze in a slice of their homemade knafeh, a baked cheese dessert soaked with rose sugar syrup and topped with a crust of semolina.

Knafeh stretchy cheese at The Black Groodle, Ultimo
Stretchy cheese

They'll heat it up for you so the cheese becomes a stretchy goo. It's an intense sugar hit to finish with, but hey after all that salad you deserve it, right?

Cakes and desserts at The Black Groodle, Ultimo
Cakes and desserts

The Black Groodle, Ultimo

The Black Groodle on Urbanspoon

The Black Groodle
55 Mountain Street, Ultimo, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9281 9161

Opening hours:
Monday to Friday 7am-4pm

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Broadway - Papa Rich
Ultimo - Mecca Espresso
Ultimo - Pub Life Kitchen at the Lord Wolseley Hotel
16 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 12/03/2014 01:36:00 am


  • At 12/03/2014 7:27 am, Anonymous Nagi@RecipeTin Eats said…

    Helen, I admire how much you get out and about in the Sydney dining scene! And I really love that you cover hole-in-the-walls and hatted restaurants (and everything in between). Actually I've been struggling to find a great "go to" bistro in Pyrmont (where one of my best friends lives so we are always pondering where to go for brunches) and I think we found one to try! Thanks for sharing this Helen! Oh, plus, Middle Eastern is one of the favourite cuisines!

  • At 12/03/2014 8:12 am, Anonymous ChopinandMysaucepan said…

    Dear Helen,

    This place reminds of Kitchen by Mike except prices seem a lot more friendly.

  • At 12/03/2014 9:09 am, Blogger Ramen Raff said…

    Everything looks nice and fresh! Nice to know that there's another joint that serves Little M coffee in the area.

  • At 12/03/2014 9:27 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I love salad! Everything looks delicious :)

  • At 12/03/2014 5:25 pm, Anonymous Gourmet Getaways said…

    With the choice of salads and knafeh, I'm sold!! Take me there please!!!

    Julie & Alesah
    Gourmet Getaways xx

  • At 12/04/2014 6:57 am, Anonymous Hotly Spiced said…

    That's such a great line from the Simpsons. Very funny but I actually like salads (not sure if they've won me any friends though!) I love the concept of this restaurant and the pulled pork roll looks amazing. Love how the menu changes daily and how you can peek into the goings-on in the kitchen xx

  • At 12/04/2014 8:12 am, Blogger Choc Chip Uru @ Go Bake Yourself said…

    Such healthy salad choices and a large range - that makes me really happy!

    Choc Chip Uru

  • At 12/04/2014 8:36 am, Blogger Roo Food said…

    Love the fact that the salads are meals themselves and not just leafage on the side. Lots of variety!

  • At 12/04/2014 9:02 am, Anonymous john | heneedsfood said…

    For a place that offers a vast array of rabbit food, this is looking really good! Kidding about the rabbit food. I'd eat here in a heartbeat!

  • At 12/04/2014 4:46 pm, Anonymous Rachel @ Reality Chick said…

    YUM I'm definitely going to stash bubba in the pram and walk here next week for lunch. Thanks for the tip X

  • At 12/04/2014 5:51 pm, Anonymous missklicious said…

    This place looks amazing! Must check it out for lunch one day :) Thanks for the review!

  • At 12/04/2014 10:03 pm, Blogger gaby @ lateraleating said…

    Looks worth a visit! I had no idea of this place.

  • At 12/07/2014 11:02 am, Blogger Maddie Loves Food said…

    Those salads are a beautiful feast for the eyes. I love how Middle Eastern food is getting a little bit more of a following in Sydney, thanks to places like this! That Knafeh looks like a sugary, gooey hit!

  • At 12/07/2014 3:54 pm, Anonymous Mr C @ The Food Diary said…

    Yummmm lamb kafta!

  • At 12/07/2014 3:54 pm, Anonymous Amanda@ChewTown said…

    I wish I was better at salads... making tasty salads that make me want to forgo unhealthy food just isn't my thing. But, that being said, these look so tasty!

  • At 12/07/2014 8:15 pm, Anonymous Amanda @ Gourmanda said…

    I never used to like eating my greens as a kid, but love it now...this range of salads is fantastic!


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