jolly cafe, leichhardt

Cafe Jolly is a tiny Italian cafe on Norton Street in Leichhardt. The funny thing about this restaurant is that it's run by a Shanghainese couple and has been like that for about 10 years now. Since it's run by two Chinese people, many of the combinations on the menu may seem a little strange but oddly enough, they do work. I peeped into the kitchen on my way to the toilet and it seems like all three chefs are Chinese!

The atmosphere of the restaurant is both joyous and homey (The name Jolly Cafe is so appropriate!). The wife manages the store front, serving drinks and coffee with the most bubbly personality ever while the husband manages the kitchen at the back. It's almost always busy at night and this can turn service into a nightmare but the waiter runs around catering to everyone's needs with the most infectious smile ever!

Now, on to the food! For starters the waiter recommended the garlic prawns and the chilli, cheese and honey bread. We pick the garlic prawns.

garlic prawns ($13.50):
Tiger prawns with garlic, chilli and tomato. The prawns are served in a tiny little pot looking plump and juicy. It was a generous serving of at least 12 prawns! Underneath the prawns is the leftover oil, rich from the prawn, chilli, salt and garlic flavours. The few pieces of bread, which are used to soak up the garlic oil disappears in a flash.

filetto pepper ($25.50):
Char-grilled grain-fed eye fillet, set on a bed of Mediterranean vegetables with a brandy and cream pepper sauce served with fries. The steak is cooked to exactly how my aunt prefers her steak - medium. The combination of eggplant and pumpkin are strangely good complements to this peppery brandy cream sauce. The crispy fries are served in a separate bowl to prevent them from turning soggy.

agnello ($25.50):
Char-grilled rack of lamb with rosemary and wine sauce served on a bed of spinach and mashed potato. This would have to be the highlight of the entire dinner. The tender lamb were beautifully cooked, the flesh pale pink and generously portioned at 4 per dish. The subtle sweet wine sauce gave the lamb extra flavour and the potato mash was chunky yet still fluffy and buttery. There was nothing to fault here!

pollo marsala ($18.90):
Grilled chicken fillet cooked in bacon, marsala cream sauce served with fried potatoes and vegetables. I personally didn't really enjoy the flavours of this dish. The chicken itself is flavourless without the bacon flavoured sauce and the potato wedges were drenched in the sauce and thus not as crisp as I had hoped for.

gnocchi gorgonzola ($16.50):
Homemade gnocchi with parsley and gorgonzola cheese in a cream sauce. When we told the waitress we wanted this dish, she questioned us twice to make sure we knew what we were in for. Usually, I can't stand the smell of blue cheese or gorgonzola but today, it was really fragrant. The gnocchi was pillowy and tender. This hearty dish was perfect for this cold night.

risotto prescatore ($17.90):

Italian arborio rice with assorted seafood, shallots, peas and garlic in a white wine and napolitana sauce. The risotto was really good! The flavour is enhanced by the subtle chilli kick in the tomato based sauce. It doesn't feel too heavy and the fresh seafood scattered throughout the risotto gives the whole dish a really nice texture.

With very generous portions, great service and reasonable prices, it's not hard to see why this place is so popular. I would definitely recommend and re-order the prawns, seafood risotto and lamb dish if I do come back!
Jolly Cafe
158 Norton St
Leichhardt, NSW 2040
t: (02) 9560 2434

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Meet The Author

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Hi there! My name is Anna. I'm nineteen, in my second year of uni (UNSW) and born in Sydney. This blog is about my gastronomic adventures in Australia and abroad. It all started when I got new camera (Samsung Ex1) and since then, I've been mainly taking photos of food. So, I decided to document everything on this blog.

I'm still learning to take nice pictures - my camera isn't exactly the greatest but it works.

Oh, and I think we should get this out of the way (just in case you decide to unfriend me) I'm not a fan of chocolate or coffee. (Yes you saw right).

Anyway, enough about me - thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy!