Mac’n’cheese seems to be everywhere now. It’s almost too ubiquitous, but then you eat one and remember why it’s so popular. The version at new cafe Chimichuri (spelled incorrectly intentionally) is called the Piggy Mac Bowl, a meld of macaroni, béchamel, braised pork, bacon, chorizo and mushroom covered in gooey cheese. It’s about as simply and unequivocally enjoyable as any dish can be.
Its creator is Nahid Hossain, an ex-Hotel Palisade chef who is designing and cooking the menu for the first time in his career, at Chimichuri (surprisingly not in or around the Westfield). He’s opened it with ex-Local Mbassy barista Wiranya Wannawong (also his wife).
The menu’s theme is Latin American. It’s not something either of the first-time cafe operators have any background in, just something they love and, as Hossain says, something that provides a lot of flavours to play with.
Hossain serves incredible Cuban rolls with pulled pork, smoked ham and a fried egg; a breakfast platter with the usual suspects (such as eggs, bacon, mushrooms and toast) plus charred corn, chorizo and baked sweet potato; and a salad with Peruvian quinoa, steak chunks, feta and seasonal vegetables. Otherwise-regular cafe dishes have sprinkles of coriander or chimichurri (a South American salsa with parsley, garlic and vinegar); side servings of pulled pork; or jalapeño-infused dishes. “It's not purely Latin. It’s a modern-Australian breakfast with hints of Latin,” Hossain says.
Korolos Ibrahim’s design is industrial. The open-air space is relatively stripped back, the only flourish being the enormous Salvador Dalí feature wall. “If you look at his painting, he's playing with the paints. Here we are playing with the food,” says Hossain.
Drinks, which are designed by Wannawong, are as accessible as the cheesy, chorizo-heavy menu, but more familiar. There’s thick, healthy smoothies; junk-food milkshakes; and tropical frappes. The best option is coffee. Wannawong is using lesser-known Melbourne roaster Zest to make some astoundingly complex brews.