Balmain’s beaut The Cottage Bar and Kitchen

The Cottage Bar and KitchenTuesday evening in some of Sydney’s inner burbs, it’s so quiet you could safely fire a cannon down the streets. Leichhardt’s eat street Norton, towards Parramatta Road, is deserted, but a few kilometres away on the peninsula that is Balmain, there is life! We’re dining (mum and daughter date night) at The Cottage Bar and Kitchen on Darling St,  which has launched its new spring menu. Working with designers Luchetti Krelle the owners put together a venue that’s warm and  neighbourly.

Upstairs at The Cottage Bar and Kitchen

Just like the old days

The Cottage Bar and Kitchen reflects historical Balmain, inside and out. The federation sandstone architecture – bay windows, tiled roof, corrugated iron roof over the veranda – is tastefully done. The courtyard is amply shaded by trees. Inside furnishings are an energetic, colourful mish-mash of vintage and new, kitsch and cool. The walls display black and white photographs of Balmain in its early days of settlement. Balmain comprises narrow streets of cheek-by-jowl Victorian cottages, quirky cafes, art galleries, off-beat boutiques and eclectic food stores. And not a mall in sight. Social and community life is on the street and visible. Just like the old days. It feels cozy and connected, and you wouldn’t know you were minutes away from the roaring CBD.

Interior of The CottageDownstairs at The Cottage Bar and Kitchen

On the menu

Designed by head chef Ellen Young, new spring dishes at The Cottage include baby corn with lime oil, parmesan and micro coriander; arancini with lemon, mint, pea & haloumi; snow pea salad with red onion and cabbage, carrot, and orange oil; seared scallops with rocket, fresh fruit vinaigrette and prosciutto; and pork ribs with guava BBQ sauce and jicama salad. The menu also has an extensive selection of fine cheeses from the UK, France, Spain and Italy, and a regularly changing wine list.

Making cocktails at Cottage Bar and Kitchen

The cocktails look good. We try a Remember Me in the Morning (above right) with passionfruit and vodka ($18); Summer Squeeze (pictured below right) with refreshing watermelon and tanquery gin ($17), Wellington Fizz with Kiwi vodka (in front of the Squeeze), and an almond liqueur which dominates the flavour  ($17).

Cocktails at The Cottage Bar and KitchenOur brains must be in Tuesday gear, because we forget to order the new spring menu, we dither about a pizza…
Making pizza at The Cottage bar and Kitchen

… and then end up ordering: Pâté of chicken and brandy with streaky bacon and eschallots ($10); Lamb shoulder with falafel, tabour and spiced yogurt ($16); kingfish ceviche with passionfruit dressing and plantain chips ($21); and key lime pie with rum cream ($12). Savoury dishes are supposed to be share plates and tapas sized but in fact are quite generous. The pâté is rich and satisfying. A glass of New Zealand’s Rabbit Ranch Pinot Noir ($11) goes well with that. The ceviche is delicate although the passionfruit could be a touch too floral for the fish. The lamb is so tender it falls off the bone – I can’t cook lamb shoulder like that.
Lamb shoulder and Summer Squeeze cocktail, The Cottage Bar and KitchenThe  key lime pie with rum cream is gone in 60 seconds. How unladylike.

Key lime pie with rum cream, Cottage Bar and KitchenCHECK LIST FOR THE COTTAGE BAR AND KITCHEN:

  • The Cottage Bar & Kitchen,  42 Darling St, Sydney NSW 2041, (02) 8084 8185
  • Open Mon-Wed 5pm-midnight; Thurs-Sat 12pm-midnight; Sun 12pm-10pm
  • Bar area and front courtyard don’t need reservations
  • Rear courtyard takes bookings of up to 25 guests, and upstairs will cater for 50
  • Full menu available in all areas
  • Live music on Sunday afternoons.

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