review

Alley Cats new menu

Guest written by Katsu Don Draper.

Alley Cats Darwin new menu

I have a confession. And I need to get it out of my system. When I think of Alley Cats, I think of this: 

 

But really, any association with the song is not Alley Cats' fault. Beyond their names, the two things don't have much in common. 

Alley Cats is all charm without the terrible singing. When I first arrived there, it struck me as a place one wouldn't likely stumble upon. It's located in an almost alley – a dimly lit turn off the main street would bring you into what seems like a once-busy arcade. At a glance, an unsuspecting passer-by might choose to dismiss it and wander on.

There was no obvious buzz or excitement, not even the faintest whiff of coffee, that would lure one in at all (although I do suspect it could have been quiet because we had lazily rocked up past the lunch peak). In any case, I would not have noticed Alley Cats tucked away in the corner if my foodie sister had not brought me there. 

Alley Cats Darwin new menu

When we entered the cafe, we were welcomed with colour and sound. Some office folk were finishing their coffees before heading back to work. One bloke had his head arched over a book and the debris of a decimated sandwich. A pair of ladies sat in another corner, chatting while they waited for their orders.  

Alley Cats Darwin new menu

Alley Cats Darwin new menu

I smiled and greeted the croissants, huddled causally in the front display. They looked hearty – full-bodied and carelessly shaped into perfection. Their skin was tender yet flaky – the mark of a croissant that promised not to be dry and crusty. One almond croissant even winked at me. But, I had come for a greater purpose than just a passing pastry.

My sister, my wife and I soon found ourselves a seat and the menu. 

Alley Cats Darwin new menu

Alley Cats Darwin new menu

Alley Cats Darwin new menu

Alley Cats Darwin new menu

The Drinks

We ordered a latte, a juice, and a tea. As you can tell, we have diverse interests with our beverages.

I thought the housemade ice tea was the winner, partly because it came in a photogenic hipster mason jar, and mostly because it was a well-balanced blend of hibiscus, lemon myrtle and berries. While it sounds like a sour mix, it tasted refreshing.

Alley Cats Darwin new menu

Alley Cats Darwin new menu

The Shroomy Burger

My wife ordered the Shroomy (a mushroom burger) because she likes a troublemaker with good intentions: Guilt-ridden fast food on the outside, but vegetarian on the inside. This shitake patty was not to be mistaken for some lesser substitute to beef. It was flavoursome, while its meaty and juicy bite contrasted the crumbly deep-fried crust that somehow did not get soggy.

Meanwhile, the milk bun was gentle and supportive, careful not overwhelm my mouth with dough. Seriously though, nobody likes eating a burger that feels like it is only bread. The final touch to the soft and crunchy interplay was completed by the sweet potato crisps. They were sliced thin enough and fried delicately enough to crackle like autumn leaves. 

Alley Cats Darwin new menu

Specials alert:

Alley Cats has 2-for-1 burgers on Thursdays! Needless to say, we will be back to try them all. 

Alley Cats Darwin new menu

Alley Cats Darwin new menu

Fried Chicken Waffles (Waffle #2)

Waffle #2 was mine. I have a weak spot for fried chicken and waffles because it usually treads boundaries of food. Is it sweet or savoury? Is it breakfast or lunch? Am I in love or am I crazy?

Waffle #2 took this confusion one step further by loading on their waffles Japanese fried chicken, kewpie mayo, and sriracha sauce.

So now you have to wonder: is it Asian or is it Western? Nobody knows. And that made my tummy tingle. With every bite, I was eating crispy Chicken and soft waffles, spicy sauce and creamy mayo, Vietnamese and Japanese and American all at the same time.

I could tell my arteries loved it.  

Alley Cats Darwin new menu

Alley Cats Darwin new menu

Loaded Croissant with Speck 

However, my real favourite was the Loaded Croissant. My sister ordered it, and I instantly envied her when it landed on our table. It was a perfect storm that had given birth to brunch: Grilled halloumi, beetroot relish, eggs, spinach, speck and hollandaise.

Oh my days.

It was messy work to deconstruct this sandwich into parts that would fit a mouth, but also well worth it. Because of how impossible it was to include every ingredient in one bite, each mouthful tasted different. Sometimes it was salty halloumi and speck. Sometimes it was runny egg yolks and relish.

But, it was all the time delicious.

The main star of the dish would have to be the croissant that kept looking at me with flirty eyes. I don't know how I had turned that down, because the croissants definitely lived up to their impression when our eyes first locked. 

Alley Cats Darwin new menu

Alley Cats Darwin new menu

Dessert: Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart

It did not take long for dessert time to arrive. At that point, I had learnt my lesson about ordering food based on first impressions. I gave the cake fridge one look and went with the chocolate tart. Because I hadn't wasted time with learning the story about this tart, I was pleasantly surprised to find that when I sliced a piece from it, it bled caramel. I further investigated and confirmed by taste that the caramel was salted.

Yummy? Affirmative.

That was signal enough for my wife to scrape the plate clean. 

The petite lemon tart was easily scoffed in a mouthful. My sister tells me it's her favourite bite.

Alley Cats Darwin new menu

You probably could guess by this point we were full. But, I do have one more confession. Even after that food, my gaze shifted back to the pastry shelf. The number of croissants had dwindled, and the few that were left, lounging in a bread basket, whispered silent hellos at me while we walked slow steps toward the exit.  

Alley Cats, Alley Cats. What are you feeding me? 

Contact details
Address
14/69 Mitchell Street
Darwin City NT 0800
Phone
(08) 8942 1932