Been meaning to catch up with the chef of [email protected] now that the new cafe has settled down a bit post grand opening.  I asked Ashraf Saleh to showcase a couple of dishes.

Portuguese chicken and roasted vegetable panini

The Portuguese chicken roasted vegetable panini tasted as spectacular as it looked.  It’s a little rare for us to get such attention to presentation in Artarmon and Ashraf excels here.  But it tastes great too.  Tangy lightly roasted vegetable and fresh salad is balanced with the spicy chicken and starchiness of panini.

Ashraf Saleh

Ashraf has only wanted to be a chef all his life and it’s his 27th year of cooking.  Born in Saudi Arabia he’s worked around the world including the glamorous Peninsula in Hong Kong.  In Australia he’s been senior sous chef at both CMC, Cockle Bay Wharf and Cadmus, Circular Quay as well as head chef at Point Blue in Blue Point Hotel and just before this gig, Executive Chef Bayley’s Restaurant in the Ensemble Theatre.

His passion is to innovate with new flavours, east-meets-wests he says.  He loves to to deconstruct food.

Deconstructed gnocchi

A fine example is his ricotta gnocchi.  Instead of flour and potato, these delights are made almost entirely from ricotta cheese and of course with some potato, around 15% Ashraf says.  Instead of boiling, they are blanched before sprinkled with parmesan cheese and baked.  And they look different too, larger and squarer.  And you’ll notice no sauce because these gnocchi are already filled with flavour.

I was a little sceptical but once I tasted it, I had to agree.  What I like about gnocchi is the starchiness of the pasta and here’s Ashraf has delivered it, without the distraction of pasta sauce.  I might take some getting used to for some, but this Sydney food blog was well and truly sold!

[email protected]
14 Herbert St, Artarmon, 2064
(02) 9430 3331

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