Erskineville’s exploratory but polished pop-up restaurant, Taste of Things to Come, is no more. In its place is the Erskine Villa cafe. Instead of all the hearty bistro fare and half the marble tables, there’ll be fresh salads, breakfast pide, a pastel mural and booths fit for an ‘80s pub.

Erskine Villa’s owner, Ken Cheung, says the original idea for the venue was to be dynamic and flexible, but running a restaurant was a bit restrictive. “When we did it at night time, we couldn’t try out the other stuff we wanted to do.”

The chef, Brian Villahermosa, remains, as does his mixture of pragmatism and flair. “We wanted it to be recognisable, but with a twist. I think people are more willing to explore with breakfast and lunch, particularly over the last year or two,” Cheung says.

One such menu maverick is something they’re calling breakfast pide, a disc of toasted flat bread topped with two eggs, a dukkha dusting and an entire shrub of mixed herbs. For lunch there’s a Nicoise salad that eschews the stereotype by adding two soft pieces of poached salmon. The other salads, with homemade falafel and beetroot or heirloom-tomato-heavy panzanella are big, bold and luscious. “We wanted an abundance on the plate,” Cheung says. A few of the old favourites from Taste of Things to Come are also available, whether on the menu or not. The breakfast poutine, one of the delightfully heavier things in the inner west, is one of the secrets concealed to everyone but those who’ve heard about it.

With dinner off the cards, Cheung says Erskine Villa nights will soon be occupied with events. We know he’ll work with Create or Die’s Deb Morgan, and there’s likely to be live music and something speakeasy-ish. The future of Erksinvilla’s rooftop, something Cheung has been teasing with since day one, is equally mysterious. “We want to use upstairs for guerrilla dinning,” he says. “We've got a whole kitchen team in there. It'll be about allowing them to play with their stuff.” When pushed, Cheung would give us just one word – “crustaceans”.

Erskine Villa
63 Erskineville Road, Erskineville

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