Shenkin has prime position on Erskineville Road. I have never seen it quiet so be sure to get in early or be prepared for a short wait. As we stood next to the massive window, watching the barista work his magic, we couldn’t help noticing the stream of gorgeous pastries and cakes marching out the door. The croissants with chocolate lining every ‘ridge’ looked incredible (and were sold out when we later tried to buy one).
A rustic and homely interior awaits inside as well as a menu with decidedly Middle Eastern (especially Israeli) influence. The large range of food options means that Shenkin is well equipped to deal with most tastes. The seating on one side of our bank of tables was a church pew and there are plenty of kitchen items from years gone by to keep you interested. We were definitely charmed by the string and pulley mechanism running the length of the interior which connected the kitchen to a bell at the front to alert waitstaff of ready meals.
The coffee ($3.50) tasted so great that we had to go back for more cups. They know what they’re doing here.
Milkshakes ($6.50) are available with all the usual flavours while the smoothies ($6.50) are available with mixed berry, mango, banana or strawberry. These were a mixed bag for us. The banana milkshake was a hit, full of fresh flavour and decently thick while the mixed berry smoothie was a bit lackluster on the berry side of things. It had a good consistency but was just let down in taste.
I went straight for the Israeli Big Breakfast ($19) as soon as I saw it on the menu. With no exposure to this before, I was excited to see what this would be like. As you can see, it is quite a feast. Not mentioned on the menu but included was a small spirit glass with layers of sweetened strawberry, yoghurt and muesli. The slice of apple can be used as a scoop and this was a great way to start. The other components clockwise on the plate are two eggs (done any way), labne, smoked salmon, marinated capsicum (this may change as it was not on the menu), tuna and a tomato, cucumber and onion salad (pretty much a staple part of an Israeli breakfast). I can honestly say that I enjoyed every component and you can find a few different ways to combine them on the toast. The tuna was flavoured with lemon and plenty of pepper. The eggs were perfectly poached while the labne was smooth and probably the most flavoursome component. If you have not tried an Israeli breakfast before and these ingredients sound enticing, you will thoroughly enjoy this.
The bacon and egg wrap ($11) looked plain and simple enough when it arrived. But cut it open and you’re greeted with crispy bacon, scrambled egg, sauce of your choice and the killer addition…
melted cheese! Overall very flavoursome, moist, great textures and filling for the price.
Some uncommon dishes are available at breakfast time at Shenkin including sandwiches, wraps and salads (I’ll give some more info on those later) but one of my guests today was happy to see the beef burger ($17.50) on the menu. There are no extraordinary ingredients here but a large beef patty, cheese, fresh tomato, lettuce and homemade tomato relish made for a tasty burger. He found the patty slightly underdone to his liking but Shenkin will alter the cooking time to suit your taste. The chips on the side were served with tomato sauce and a very garlicy aioli. They were a suitably crunchy addition.
One of the most popular Israeli dishes is without a doubt shakshuka ($16) which is that country’s version of baked eggs. Based on a tomato, capsicum, and onion sauce, Shenkin’s version includes two baked eggs in the centre. You can also add some extra flavour in the form of eggplant and haloumi, beans and corn or chorizo (total $19 each). We saw plenty of these dishes being served and they looked & smelled unreal.
The wraps ($15) also prove to be very popular and you are certainly spoiled for choice. Hummus & falafel, kebab, schnitzel, eggplant or roast beef to name a few.
There are treats for the sweet tooth as well. Not only as main dishes in the form of pancakes (mixed berry, chocolate or banana, $14.50) or Belgian waffles (with banana, strawberries, ice cream and Belgian chocolate) but also as pastries and cakes. Our first pastry was not overly sweet but packed with the strong unmistakable flavours of poppyseed and chocolate – it was a definite winner. The babka meanwhile was moist, sweet and so good, the guest who ordered almost wouldn’t share!
Without a doubt, if you have a passion for food, you will love the dishes at Shenkin. The flavour combinations are inspiring, the coffee is uplifting and the pastries are indulgent.
Overall Rating: 17.5/25
Phone: 9550 5511
Address: 53 Erskineville Road, Erskineville, 2043
Payment Options: CC, EFTPOS, cash