One of those rare joints that's owned and operated by an established TV chef, AND lives up to the hype.
When a celeb chef owns a suburban cafe, it's usually assumed that it will be their name on the website and the menu, but it would be super-rare to actually see them. Not so at Billykart Kitchen in Annerley, where Ben O'Donoghue is on deck in the open kitchen and running service like the seasoned pro he is. It's a refreshing sight to see your brekky being dished up by one of Australia's beloved television kitchen captains.
Snuggled away in the leafy 'burbs, Billykart brings the foodie trend to an area otherwise devoid of chic culinary delights and a carefully curated caffeine injection. The fit is impressive with a soft, pastel green paint job, casually mismatched tables and varied paraphernalia harking back to the old-fashioned local store origins of the building. Flowers and fresh produce are dotted around the shop, reassuring you that your meal is a close to the farm as humanly possible.
The menu has a little something for everyone. Breakfast is everything from the classics such as (perfectly) poached eggs and succulent double smoked bacon ($6 for eggs, $4.50 for sides), to fusion Aussie-Asian eggs with prawns, chilli and more bacon ($18.50). Lunch is an even more varied affair, boasting pulled pork shoulder ($17), antipasto plates ($16.50) and even sushi ($18.50). And on Friday nights, they open up to a constantly changing, themed menu, opening the minds of diners to new ways of thinking about food.
The coffee is pretty darn good, for a busy cafe. They've taken a great path by choosing a beautiful La Marzocco machine and Campos coffee, and the baristas pump out the wake-up juice with attention paid to quantity, quality and consistency. It's no Bean, but it's impressive for a packed out 80-seater.
It's good to see that Billykart are also hell-bent on employing the younger generation, as well as the hospitality veterans in the area. There are a few school-aged youngsters knocking about in the kitchen, as well as uni students dashing about on the floor. The next wave of restaurateurs has to come from somewhere, and training up under a guy like O'Donoghue is a pretty great place to start.
All in all, Billykart Kitchen lives up to the celebrity chef's reputation. The vibe is chilled, the waitstaff are competent and friendly, and the food is spot on. It's a bit of a trek from the inner-city (give Annerley 10 years and it will be inner-city too), but who couldn't use a breakfast-based trip to the 'burbs every now and then?