Let’s go together, you and I, to our local cafe, YOUENI
The café has a very uplifting and fresh ambience, with great customer service and soothing music playing in the background. Youeni (pronounced “you ‘n’ I”), offers a variety of sweets and cakes to take away with your coffee. There is a constant stream of customers ordering takeaway coffee, ranging from office workers, blue-collar workers, and mums with prams. There is ample seating inside, upstairs, as well as outside each offering a different environment so you can choose your dining experience. The menu is limited but is gluten free and vegan-friendly with the option of adding your own sides such as bacon or eggs. They offer both sweet and savoury breakfast options. The café also doubles as a “food store” and you can purchase items such as coffee beans and chocolate.
The café is bright and well lit, sunlight able to illuminate the whole area thanks to the outer walls being made of glass. This also allows people to sit at the window and peer out onto the main road, it feels as though you’re in a little bubble of happiness: the smell of coffee, food, the buzz and chatter of the fellow customers, and smooth vocals playing in the background. If you prefer a more secluded and dimmed atmosphere, you have the option of sitting upstairs, a platform that overlooks the café. The lighting and seating are slightly more intimate as there is less space to move around in. During my visit, it was warmer upstairs due to the oven located on the wall. It could be more appropriate for couples or students who are happy to extend their time inside, unbothered by the hustle and bustle downstairs.
As soon as I walked in I was greeted by the server and as I walked through to explore the upstairs area, I was greeted by the chefs. Perhaps this attention was only possible as there was only a smattering of customers as this attentive greeting dropped as the café became busier and the servers had to juggle being cashiers, baristas, and servers. As I stood at the door looking confused, the server, in a friendly tone, explained to me that I needed to order at the counter, could choose where I wanted to sit, and that I could get my own table water and cutlery behind me. After I ordered I was given a number, picked up my cutlery, and juggled them with my phone and wallet as I walked around choosing my seat. My coffee and food came out quickly and beautifully presented.
The coffee was pleasant to drink, not too bitter that I couldn’t drink it but strong enough to satiate my craving, and it complemented my sweet breakfast very well. I ordered their famous pancake: Barney and Friends, Purple City, known for its unusual purple hue and aesthetics. It was one big pancake covered in a blueberry cream, nuts, coconut shavings, and beautiful purple flower petals, with a side of dark purple syrup. The pancake was delicious but it did get difficult to finish as it got very sweet halfway through.
For dessert, I could not resist ordering a slice of their salted caramel and berry cake, also decorated with nuts, flowers, and dehydrated fruits. The cake was not a typical flour-based cake as it was gluten-free, and it tasted like Anzac Cookies. It was delightfully crunchy and sweet; although I couldn’t finish the slice I was keen to take it away for later and the server happily accommodated me by providing me with a cardboard cake tray and a paper bag.
The food tasted healthy and simple, but if you are not a fan of healthy they also have more traditional breakfast options. I myself being a self-confessed greasy food-lover, I was sceptical about the menu and although I was delightfully surprised, it will probably not be my number one choice for food. I would come every week for their cake though, if I could.
Pros and Cons
There does seem to be a mixed consensus regarding the food and service. While the menu is limited, people seem to be content that YOUENI offers add-ons for people who want something extra. The café is likely to fill up on the weekends and customers may be confused as to the system of grabbing your own menu, seat, cutlery, and table water if the servers are too busy to explain to them.
Access to the café is convenient with parking just around the corner for centre customers, just under Dan Murphy’s. If you don’t drive, the café is just down the road from Castle Towers and is easily accessible by public transport.
While I did enjoy the experience, it may not be a café that I would travel far for, but definitely one I would frequent as a local. The servers were friendly, the kitchen staff were attentive, and the ambience was uplifting and pleasant. It’s a café that I would be happy to visit alone, accompanied by a light-hearted book as I sipped my coffee and indulged in their cakes.
Castle Hill serves up city lifestyle in the suburbs
Address: Shop 2 / 250 Old Northern Rd, Castle Hill, NSW 2154
Phone: 02 9680 8885
Monday-Sunday | 7:30am-5pm