by Rebecca Lee
I thought I knew Macquarie Centre pretty well until one day when I was searching for Hot Dollar, I was genuinely surprised to stumble upon a rather sad looking cafe that I mistook for the Myer staff lunch room (or so I thought). Fast forward a few months to my next visit to Hot Dollar and (no) surprise- the “lunch room” was gone. The next I heard of something in the space was a mention in the Ryde District Mums Facebook group.
The new owners it seems are not so new to the cafe game. Peter Plioplis and most of his team (Chefs & Baristas) all have a history working together in hospitality over the past 15 to 20 years. Prior to Quell, Pete owned and operated Eden Cafe in St Ives which managed to reach number 1 on TripAdvisor for 18 months running as best cafe in St Ives.
We descended upon Quell via the Myer entrance (next to Menswear) and were welcomed as soon as we set foot into the cafe. Surprise! The area is spacious and not too noisy or with overwhelmingly loud music. Quell means to calm and chill-out, but it also means “that” in Italian so it’s literally “that chill-out cafe”. There is plenty of room for prams, wheelchairs and walkers, something that was important to the owners when designing the space. The tables are rectangular so you can pull a few together for a Mothers Group gathering or family lunch. We sat in a booth and were promptly delivered a high chair, menus and tap water.
Pete and his team bring to the table Greek and Italian flavours, drawing on inspiration from his and his wife’s heritage. Ultimately its clear they are lovers of fantastic Australian food- modern contemporary and multicultural cuisine as you will see on the menu.
For the Little Quells, the usual cafe favourites abound, however I was pleased to see the inclusion of a fruit and yoghurt board at breakfast, a few tasty sounding pasta dishes at lunch, as well as the option to switch out chips for veggie sticks should you prefer. Before I had a chance to look at the full menu, Miss 4 tells me she needs to go to the toilet. Surprise! Quell has its own toilets- no abandoning the table and rushing halfway through Macquarie Centre for the facilities.
Back to the menu.
The grown-ups menu is quite big. I really wanted to try the yeeros, southern fried chicken burger and the popcorn shrimp but as you may know, we Admin team are making some ahem “lifestyle changes”- so I went with the cobb salad- dressing on the side.
Apparently, you can make friends with salad because this was delicious! The leaves, cucumber and tomato were nice and crisp- really fresh, with generous amounts of the good stuff- grilled chicken, bacon, avocado and crispy sweet potato. The kids fish and chips was also a generous portion. The batter was crispy like tempura and the fries were of the shoestring variety. Both dishes were gobbled up. My coffee was hot and lots of flavour, which is important to me as sometimes soy or almond milk can mellow the freshly roasted flavour. Quell uses the multi award-winning Frankie’s Beans.
The wait staff were super attentive and courteous, even humouring Miss 4 as she paid the bill via PayPass (kids these days!).
The only thing I would say is that it’s a little bit tricky to find Quell in the maze that is Macquarie Centre, but that’s ok with me. For now, it feels like a secret oasis from the crowds but we had such a good experience, I know it won’t be for long.
Location: Shop 150, Macquarie Centre – Adjacent Myer & Level 3 Carpark, or one level down from Fitness First and to the left of the escalator
Opening Hours: 8am – 5pm every day (9pm Thursdays)
*RDM dined anonymously and footed the bill for our lunch at Quell. All thoughts are the reviewer’s own.