The Essence of Freo
I love abundance, and not many cafés can create it unless the owner is generous, warm and loves people.
This is the essence of Il Cibo in Fremantle and its owners Jessica Thomas and her mother Donatella Walker, who started one of my favourite café’s (Beaches in Cottesloe), as well as Toscanini and Capodonna – what a legend!
Jessica definitely has her mother’s genes, and has created a Bohemian-esque, trendy café opposite the Fremantle Railway Station.
I was drawn in by the gorgeous historic façade and the wide-open feel of Il Cibo, with its large outdoor area and café umbrellas. I loved the soaring ceilings with pressed tin designs of yesteryear. The red and beige interior with rustic walls added a contemporary feel.
Abundance radiates from the counters and fridges, as they bulge with fresh fruits, gargantuan salads, homemade cakes and savoury delights. The staff are willing and friendly, and background music adds to the venue’s overall ambiance.
Our first dish was a shared serving of Chilli Mussels with Coconut and Coriander. They arrived in a lovely pottery bowl – half a kilo of black, shiny delicacies. The green chilli, lemon wedges and crusty bread made it a king’s feast. I savoured the smoothness of the coconut, the bite of the chilli and the unique coriander flavour.
We teamed the dish with a glass of Flame Tree Sauvignon Blanc 2010 from Margaret River. The cool, crisp wine added a tang to the tender mussel meat.
We couldn’t resist tasting the Chicken and Mushroom Parcel, even though we felt sated. The tender chicken filling with chunks of mushroom was encased in a crunchy, buttery puff pastry that was to die for.
Choosing the salads to go with it was difficult as all the huge dishes of fresh salads looked amazing.
My favourite salad was the Wild Rice Salad, with a delicious creaminess, a slight sweetness and the crunch of pine nuts. The most unusual salad was the Chickpea Salad with coriander and red capsicum, also fresh and tasty.
The Chocolate Pavlova looked delectable and came served on a pretty antique dinner plate. The outer layer was soft, like chocolate marshmallow, and was filled with a rich chocolate cream. Topped off with chocolate icing and slivered almonds, it was surprisingly light, fluffy and very indulgent.
The Orange and Almond Flourless Torte was also light and very moreish. We relished the zesty orange flavor and the moistness of the cake.
I had heard about the reputation Il Cibo’s coffee was getting around Freo, and I was not disappointed. I hate bitter coffee and was delighted by the smoothness of my latte. The milk was just so and I spooned the froth into my mouth (my test for a good coffee) – a gorgeous way to finish a superb lunch.
I will be back for the juices and smoothies, which have a good reputation in Freo, and the Big Breakfast which is served in a huge paella pan.
Il Cibo has many Gluten Free and Vegetarian options (the beans I hear are delicious) that suit my friends and I from all over Perth, plus the soups are supposed to be divine.
A pity it is only open 6am to 4pm daily or I would definitely be back at dinnertime too!
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