I love it when I find a new favourite place to eat, and Ithaka in the newly renovated Llankelly Place laneway is my latest discovery. The first time I went there I was suffering from a blasted hangover and feeling pretty shabby, but the woman behind the counter commented that I looked ''very smart today'' and oh, it was joy to hear. I felt better immediately.
Then the chef served me a delicious rocket, fig, walnut and feta salad dressed with balsamic. I would have preferred the balsamic to have been toned down with a splash of olive oil but it was a delicious, uplifting dish and I soon felt back to normal.
Ithaka, named after the little island in the Ionian sea off Greece, opened about six months ago shortly after the laneway was spruced up with Mayor Clover Moore's granite broom. It has the smallest menu, which I like, because it means that whatever you choose, they put all their heart into it. And I hate it when little cafes try to do too much.
But at Ithaka, even the simplest sandwich is lovingly prepared:
The menu features about a dozen items, including the aforementioned Roka Salata (about $8.50) and the above Zabon and Tiri Melt ($6.50), as well as Spanakopita ($8.90) and Grilled Biftekia on Pita ($8.90).
But apart from the good and extremely well-priced food, the staff are among the friendliest I have encountered in the neighbourhood. It is a fine place to eat alone because they make you feel so welcome. The chef even picked my handbag off the ground and carefully placed it on its very own chair, so that it didn't get dirty. How thoughtful.
Now that I have a coffee loyalty card, I'll definitely be returning again and again.
Shop 13, The Village Centre (Llankelly Place)
24-30 Springfield Avenue
Potts Point NSW 2011
02 8065 5209