Tucked away on the corner of Little Bourke and William streets is a small, unassuming cafe that is friendly and cosy. I’ve been there twice and on both occasions, the wait staff were cheery and friendly and immediately made me feel welcome. The interior is comfortable, and quiet and even though it’s rarely busy (from what I’ve seen walking past many times), it doesn’t have any kind of lonely vibe.
The first time I was there, I had a craving for soup and so popped in for some very nourishing and filling pumpkin soup, flavoured with a bit of chilli. It was accompanied by fresh, crusty bread that was perfect for scooping out the soup instead of using the spoon (but only when no-one was watching of course). Seeing as that first visit was spontaneous, there are no photos to show.
The second time though, I caught up for lunch with friend. We needed somewhere that wasn’t too noisy, yet not too small so that we could have a decent conversation. Illia Cafe seemed like the perfect option and indeed it was in that respect. We were promptly seated and presented with a plate of bread, some olive oil and balsamic vinegar while we consulted the menu. After a bit of indecision, I ordered the warm chicken salad.
Warm Chicken Salad
From the photo, I assume you can tell that this dish was more ‘chicken’ than ‘salad’. That wasn’t the issue (as I love my protein), because unfortunately what brought the dish down was the dryness of the chicken. The salad was nice and simple, which I usually like, but it was tough getting through the blandness of the meat. But at least it was warm and surprisingly filling. My friend ordered the, actually, I don’t know. It was ham with asparagus wrapped in veal (?) on a bed of polenta.
You’d have to track down my friend and ask him exactly what it was, but by all accounts it was quite tasty, and tempting enough for me to try next time even though it doesn’t look like much. The customers we observed seemed very comfortable and content in this cafe, when I feel like chilling out during my lunch hour by myself, I think I know where I’ll be going.
180 William St, Melbourne
Mon 730am-5pm, Tue-Thu 7am-5pm, Fri 7am-1159pm