You know that feeling you get, when you find a café that you can call “yours”, somewhere that feels like a second home? Somewhere that you can recommend to others and have full confidence that they’ll enjoy it just as much as you have? Having lived in the South Western suburbs of Sydney my whole life, I’m not going to lie; it’s quite rare to find a place. XS Espresso definitely changed that for me. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love desserts, and XS Espresso takes them seriously – excessively indulgent desserts that are so wrong, it feels so right. With a strong social media presence online, I think everyone has heard of XS at this point, or at least most notably, their iconic milkshakes.
It’s been a year since lighting everyone’s feed on fire with their ‘Instagrammable’ dishes and I don’t know how, but the creators behind XS have decided that it’s time to once again, take it to the “Next Level”. Quite literally as they are now open for Dinner on their upper level. With that being said, they are offering a variety of dinner options that are true to their roots. So I guess it’s never too late to indulge yourself now.
The moment you walk in, there is a homey and familial atmosphere that fills throughout the café, with the exposed brick walls, white shelves and the vines cascading off the walls; it really feels like you have walked into someone’s home.
We started our dinner off with a couple of their famous freak shakes – Maximess and the XS Surprise. The Maximess ($14), which comprises of a chocolate milkshake base and crowned with an organic Ice Cream Sandwich with a drizzle of milk chocolate and whipped cream is a great example of why XS are so popular online. Not only does it look visually appealing it tastes amazing as well. The shake itself had a hazelnut under tone with a touch of cookies and cream flavour. This may be because XS are known to blitz cookies such as Tim Tams and Oreos in the shake. The organic ice cream sandwich was a great addition, which mellowed out the sweetness of the shake with its creaminess.
The XS Surprise ($14) on the other hand was quite dramatic; my friend described the look of it as “a little girl’s dream” and I would have to agree. The shake had similar flavours to the Maximess but with a more Nutella richness. The cotton candy was little pops of sugary clouds as you take a small bite in between sips. XS Espresso should be proud, they’re milkshakes really do “bring all the boys to the yard” 😉
After the sugary hit, we had the cheeseburger spring rolls ($10) to itch our palates with the next few savoury dishes. These spring rolls were exactly what you would imagine; a minced beef and cheese filling all wrapped in a crispy spring roll wrapper. I have personally tasted better but for my companions who haven’t tasted these before, XS’s variation is still quite tasty.
Next up, the Double Trouble Fried Chicken wings ($10) are what I would call KFC’s “wicked wings ethnic cousin”. Don’t get what I mean? So these chicken wings had a crispy bread crumbed shell that encased juicy and succulent chicken meat. The fried chicken was generously drizzled with a house made hot sauce reminiscent of tobasco so each bite left a light tingling sensation and burning heat at the back of the throat…just like a wicked wing.
Tackling fusion food once again, the Pizza Burger ($15) is quite popular on Instagram right about now. With two pepperoni pizzas replacing the burger buns, there is a herb coleslaw and a crumbed seasoned chicken fillet in the middle and slathered with an XS ‘secret sauce’. This burger reminded me of a song on the radio right now – Will.I.Am and Pia Mia’s “Boys & Girls”; a total hot mess. Confession: I secretly like the song and also this burger. At first glance, it just sounds excessive but the way this was executed made it memorable. The slaw itself had a mixture of dill and coriander and red cabbage dressed with a light mayo. This slaw freshened each bite you took as the crumbed chicken melded with the creamy and rich sauce.
The Americano Fries ($9) were my personal favourite from the night because I love fries in general. As if fries don’t scream America enough, the other components on top of it just took it up a notch. The BBQ sauce had a strong smokiness to it and when the cheese sauce merged with the BBQ sauce it created a juxtaposition of intensity and a mellow smoothness. The small bits of bacon were little pops of saltiness that added a certain crispness, different from the crunch of the fries that had pillowy soft innards. I would have definitely ordered another but for what we had next, I don’t think it would have been a wise decision. (I’m totally kidding, there is always room for fries seriously)
With a fitted wood fired oven on the second floor, there is a selection of pizzas available on the new menu. The John Wayne ($15) (right) has pepperoni, ham, red onion, olives, capsicum, mushrooms and mozzarella cheese. With a whole lot of toppings, I was quite sceptical that this would taste good because when it comes to pizza, I prefer simpler toppings…Yes, the only #basic thing about me. However, to my surprise it really did work. The toppings weren’t competing against each other but gave different textures and tastes in each bite. The Grace Kelly ($15) (left) is something more to my liking. Topped with prawns, capsicum, on a tomato and garlic base with a pesto glaze, simpler toppings just mean you are able to really taste each individual ingredient. The prawns were incredibly plump and had a natural sweetness that went great with the mellow creaminess of the bocconcini. My only critique would be that the pesto sauce had a rather bitter taste that unfortunately overpowered each bite. Between both pizzas, the base itself was great; Fresh out of the oven, the fresh smell was the first thing you’re hit with. Relatively thin, the bottom was crispy with a pillowy inside that had a soft flavour allowing the toppings to shine.
We ended our dinner with their newest dessert that had all eyes on it when it was put down on our table. After a minute or two in awe you think…”what is it?”. Am I only the one who thinks it’s Nicki Minaj on a plate?…
Didn’t think so.
Named the Candy Crush, it begins with a Nutella stuffed pancake on the bottom, that is showered with berry popping candy, vanilla ice cream with sprinkles, which is then pierced with an ice cream cone in the middle and crowned with a cloud of multi pastel coloured cotton candy. On the side are piles of chocolate pearls, edible flowers and an extra pouring of milk chocolate. Besides the fact that this dessert is very indulgent, textually it is an experience. The pancake itself tasted not so overly sweet that had a crispy exterior and a soft fluffy inside and with the Nutella centre, it made it that extra rich. The popping candy added a bit of theatre as it made each bite feel like New Years celebrations in your mouth, as each pearl popped with each bite. What can I say? It put the XS in excessive.
Overall, it’s quite clear that XS Espresso have cemented their place as a leader in Sydney’s South West’s café culture. Though, I must say, that by taking it to the “next level” through their dinner menu that features items inspired by various cuisines whilst still offering their signature desserts, the only direction I see that XS can go is up… literally.
9a / 1183-1187 The Horsley Drive, Wetherill Park, NSW
Phone: (02) 9757 4265
Website: XS Espresso
I Ate My Way Through dined as guests of XS Espresso