Atop Illawarra Road’s cosiest crest, Marrickvillians Con and Mary ran a quintessentially Australian corner store for 47 years. Now their humble shop has been reborn as a bright cafe boasting all things local. Illi Hill is the work of Oleh Sokolovsky, a set designer who owns vintage furniture store Juliet’s Balcony in Dulwich Hill, and long time friend Perry Silvio (from Balmain’s Bertoni). Head chef Jesus Estevez spent two years at Erskineville’s Bar Nosh before bringing his expertise and Spanish-influenced fare to the table.
A local, collaborative spirit enlivens Illi Hill. Meat is sourced from Feather & Bone and AC butchers, with eggs courtesy of Al’s Farm in Rouse Hill. The Little Marionette supplies an exclusive coffee blend. Sokolovsky says food options will shift according to season.
The breakfast menu offers unique combinations such as green scrambled eggs made with baby spinach, peas and roasted sunflower seeds, and the ricotta and buttermilk hotcakes are fast becoming popular with locals. Lunch is similarly diverse. The grilled veggie burger stacks seasonal produce with a layer of wasabi mayo. The triple cheeseburger melts aged cheddar, Swiss and blue atop organic beef. Hefty salads include Israeli couscous and a six-hour roasted lamb. All dishes are flexible, with adaptable ingredients. Illi Hill promises “options for vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters, providing that the meat has been sourced ethically.”
Illi Hill’s bright, spacious interior includes the kauri pine counter. “They were the original shelves that Con and Mary built – we stripped, sanded and French polished them.” A career in set design explains the balance of modern and period furniture. The Bentwood Thonet chairs were used on the set of The Great Gatsby and the wall sconces were in The Water Diviner. Polished golden tables, adorned with flowers fresh from Con and Mary’s garden, will make you feel like king (or queen) of the hill.
72 Illawarra Road, Marrickville