A Surry Hills-esque cafe in West Ryde?
Yes. It is true. It does exist. It even boasts the crowds!
I've been hearing lots about Element 6 over the past half year - first reading about them on The Adventures of Miss Piggy's blog in December, and then from word of mouth from people I knew who lived locally. Everyone was unanimous in their feedback - great food, fantastic place, a lovely owner - but it never really occurred to me as a place to visit until recently when I was going to be in the neighbourhood.
Element 6 is the busiest shopfront on a long stretch of road alongside West Ryde train station. Located on the quieter / more deserted side (the other side has Woolworths and a shopping plaza), it is flanked by a few op shops and empty boarded up stores. The cafe itself is furnished with a mish mash of second hand furniture and I loved that the food was plated up on some fantastic retro 70s plates. It is op shop cool!
I was surprised to see, on a Wednesday around midday, that this place was full. Not a spare seat in sight. On a Wednesday. In West Ryde. What the hell? Soon enough, we were lucky that a table was vacated and we quickly nabbed it. There is a small menu and a specials board and I ordered three dishes for my in laws and I to share.
The first dish to arrive, and the stand out for me, was the orange and avocado rocket salad which I ordered with the poached chicken. Generous in size, it came heaped on the plate on top of a piece of crisply toasted sour dough. I loved the zingy dressing, and the addition of the orange - it was fresh and absolutely perfect for the hot spring day. It was the favourite dish for all three of us.
The second dish was the chorizo baked eggs, from the specials board. Presentation was fantastic, and I was really looking forward to this - there was an abundance of roast potatoes and eggs, but alas, no chorizo. Not even one piece. I didn't send it back to the kitchen as I thought that perhaps only I had missed the chorizo in my serving, but later on I found out that neither my father or mother in law got any either... a fact that we only discovered at the end when we shared views on the food and by that stage, it was too late to send it back to the kitchen. A shame, because the dish was lovely and the chorizo would've added the much needed saltiness and punch. With the chorizo, I'm sure it would've been a winner.
The third dish we ordered was the pulled pork. A difficult dish to share, but I saw that a lot of diners had ordered this so I knew that we had to try it. The pork was lovely, and I really appreciated that they had shown some restraint by not dousing it liberally in barbecue sauce. The slaw was crunchy and fresh, and again, similar restraint shown by not coating it with mayonnaise. This was ranked up there by all three of us with the salad.
It is clear that this is a passion project for the owner - opening a cafe on a stretch of road like the one it is located on, in West Ryde, would've been a brave move for anyone. I'm pleased to see that it is doing so well - people kept on coming in the door, it was incredibly busy, and I hope that success continues. The food is excellent, and if they would just remember the chorizo, then it would've been a great experience.
65 Ryedale Road, West Ryde
NB. Please note they are closed on Sundays!