Expecting to find Grandma’s homestyle cooking at The Cottage Bar & Kitchen Balmain? Think again.
On a bustling street in Balmain exists a quiet cottage. Shyly peeking through a shield of spearhead fencing, sandstone and lush greenery is The Cottage Bar & Kitchen. Illuminated in the evening by a canopy of fairy lights it looks like every Sydney-sider’s dream courtyard and lures you in.
As you cross the forest green threshold, you’re sure to be met with an enchanting smile from one of the friendly waitstaff. This converted cottage has several different rooms inside, each with their own flair. Once known for its homely, deliciously simple food, The Cottage Bar & Kitchen has taken a slightly different direction. Led by Head Chef Adam McCaughey they now serve a modern Australian menu with a subtle Japanese twist.
We started our evening with a Beetroot Cured Salmon ($22). The salmon was cured to perfection. It came matched with crispy wafer-like rice crackers, crunchy apple, a dusting of beetroot powder and a “liquorice foam”. Avoid said “foam” it’s more like a smear of liquorice flavoured tar and adds nothing to the otherwise delicious dish. The produce however speaks for itself with a plate of plump and juicy Seared Scallops ($23). This dish was met with a sweet tarragon and apple gel, miso puree and topped with fried nori.
Next up was the Crispy Pork Belly ($25) and Blood Orange Confit Duck ($28). We were dreaming of chunks of crispy pork belly with salty, crunchy crackling. Instead our pork came thinly sliced and rolled into small coils hidden amongst a garden of celeriac and vanilla puree, confit artichokes and onion fennel ash. Vanilla puree? Yes we were a little confused too. There was just too much sweetness in this dish for our liking. With no time to duck around, the Blood Orange Confit Duck was next. Surrounded by a sea of slightly sour fragrant grains and an overpowering sweet date cream, the flavours didn’t mix well.
Moving back into home-style simplicity, next came the Wood Fired Prawns ($30) and the Roasted Cauliflower ($12).The jumbo prawns, split and roasted, dripping with fragrant herb marinade and lemon were delicious. If only they came in a larger serving. Three were simply not enough, we could have eaten more. In comparison the roasted cauliflower was more substantial. Each element was a delicious ingredient on its own– cauliflower, raisins, pistachios, pomegranate and baba ghanoush. However, together the flavours didn’t seem to mix as well.
We finished with a White Chocolate Parfait ($13). The shades of white were created with elderflower granita, passionfruit marshmallow and yuzu gel. Staring into this light and fluffy scene, we had an epiphany. Looking back on the evening’s meal at The Cottage Bar & Kitchen, something didn’t quite add up. The harmony of sweet versus sour. Each meal teetered on this see-saw but the balance was never level.
The promise of Modern Australian share plates with subtle a Japanese twist was vague in reality. Perhaps the attempt to integrate this style, whilst holding onto the original charming flavour of The Cottage has been lost within a convolution of flavour combinations. With hints of Modern Australian, Japanese, and even some Middle Eastern we’re left a little confused.
As a venue we think The Cottage Bar & Kitchen is a great place for a drink and very warm and inviting. And just as one drinks Pinot Grigio while the other prefers Chardonnay, everyone’s palette is different. Enter the crawling courtyard greenery below the fairly light canopy at The Cottage Bar & Kitchen and discover it for yourself.
342 Darling Street Balmain 2041
02 8084 8185