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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Circa Espresso, Parramatta

 Recently awarded as 'best café' from the Sydney Morning Herald Good Café Guide 2013, Circa Specialty Coffee & Tea (21 Wentworth Street, Parramatta) has always been committed to serving quality food and devoting special attention to their coffee. From deserted laneway, turned garage, turned café, Circa Espresso came onto the scene a couple of years ago and has now become the talk of the town. Sure, a couple of things have changed since then; all items on the menu were under $10 and their scrumptious French toast has disappeared from their main menu (sources tell me that you can still ask for it apparently...). But what makes Patty and I still coming back for more is their ridiculously good quality of coffee and overly delicious food! There's limited seating inside, but they've managed to expand onto the slanted footpath outside to accommodate its rise in popularity.

Award as best café along with
their 3 cups
 Starting with the coffee, their beans are roasted by '5 sense' with their blend designed in house and occasionally external alternative blends are brought in to mix it up. All their coffees are made with double ristretto shots and their piccolos are strong, sweet, smooth and wonderfully roasty.

 For the lovers of iced coffee (without that nonsense of cream and sugar syrup) like myself, then Circa Espresso has your ticket to the best iced coffee out there. To this day, the ever consistent iced coffee at Circa has remained my favourite beverage of all time and the only thing for you to do is to take my word for it and give it a go yourself. I'm actually scared of them changing the iced coffee so I have to visit every once in a while to make sure it's still the same. How can you be so good.
Iced Coffee
clean and pure

It deserves 2 photos, I miss you already
 Patty also has a favourite here too, their honey infused chai. Similar to the Max Brenner's, White Choc Chai, this Circa Espresso favourite is a bit less sweet and has a more intense chai tea flavour. It's a lucky day for me if Patty lets me steal some of her tea during our meal, so that's saying something about how much she loves it.

Blue Mountains Sticky Chai
Loose-leaf Chai Steeped in Spices and Soaked in Organic Honey

 Although the menu has changed somewhat, most of their best dishes remain and they're never short on experimenting/bringing new things onto the menu. The 'Ottoman Eggs', probably the most popular dish on the menu at Circa Espresso and the go to comfort food for any given day. Perfectly poached eggs, smoky eggplant, a hint of chilli with some garlic labne (strained yoghurt). I have a couple of photos of the Ottoman Eggs which were eaten probably 2 months apart from each other and it underwent some intense plastic surgery. They're bringing in the seeded sourdough baguette to replace the normal toasted sourdough but I don't think it's as good.
Ottoman Eggs
Poached Free-Range Eggs with Crumbed Eggplant, Garlic Labne,
Burnt Chilli & Sage served with Seeded Sourdough Baguette


  Something light to start the day off and easy on your wallet too! At $9, it's not bad considering all the elements put onto two slices of sourdough. Pine nuts combined with confit tomatoes on a fluffy layer of ricotta and finished off with some fresh salad leaves and agro dolce (sweet & sour sauce). Fresh, tasty and simple.

Ricotta with Confit Tomato, Agro Dolce,
Roast Pine Nuts Served on Sourdough Toast

 The classic baked eggs is another example of the past and present at Circa Espresso. Once, my favourite dish of all time, but now something I don't consider ordering anymore. It's made obvious from the plastic handle, that they don't grill or bake the dish in the actual pan itself and from the photo, there's not much sujuk (dried spicy sausage) in there either. Unfortunately I don't have a photo of the baked eggs before the change, but it was loaded with chorizo sausage, onion and spinach. R.I.P former baked eggs, I'll never forget you.

Baked Eggs
Baked Free-Range Eggs with Sujuk, Danish Fetta,
Diced Tomato & hint of Chilli with Toast served in a pan

 Back onto the brighter side of things, a new addition to the café is the specialty scrambled eggs. Although not formally on the menu, it's a great combination of potato, mushrooms and spinach to create a delicious scrambled eggs. Mind you, the photos don't really make it look too appealing but all that matters is the taste!

Scrambled Eggs
Kiple Potato, Shitake Mushrooms
& Spinach with Seeded Sourdough Baguette
 Another easy going meal that isn't too heavy and perfect for something refreshing but full of flavour at the same time. A creamy mash up of avocado, fetta, ricotta and green peas make up the delicious white heap which is topped onto some fresh sourdough bread. The chilli is very subtle and you can barely notice it to be honest, so don't be put off by the tonne of dried flakes everywhere. Would be even better with pine nuts on top, just saying (hope you read this Circa).
Avocado, Fetta, Ricotta, Green Pea Mash
with Coriander & hint of Chilli on Sourdough

 Pulled pork has become a necessity in most cafes and is as trendy as youths wearing snapbacks and chinos (just kidding...). Instead of following suit, Circa has thrown in their equivalent with the 'Braised Beef Brisket Sandwich'. Another combination of great flavours oozing out of its surroundings, this 'sanga' is everything is should be. The juices from the braised beef are infused into the bread and the aioli gives it that extra something. Cornichons are otherwise known as gherkins or pickled cucumber. (Imagine if it was in burger form, the 'Braised Beef Brisket Burger' a.k.a alliteration burger) YUM, makes it taste that much better! *begin collage of braised beef photos*

Braised Beef Brisket Sandwich
Slow Braised Beef Brisket with Swiss Cheese, Cornichons,
Pickled Cabbage, Aioli & Wild Rocket in a Sandwich

 For dessert there are a few friands, baked goods and little nibbles in the display cabinet. They had a scrumptious tea cake a year ago that has never resurfaced again much to my dismay but I guess this chocolate tart will have to do for now.
Chocolate Tart

 There are so many reasons why Circa Espresso is now officially the best café in Sydney and deservedly so. I'm due for a visit soon and expect even more changes, there's a new surprise every time I'm there. If Circa is too busy, their sister café, Three Ropes Espresso is just located conveniently over the tracks of Parramatta station. They too make quality coffee and seating is tucked neatly into a little laneway. Parking nearby is a little bit of a hassle because there are mostly half hour spots so it's probably a better option to walk from Westfield Shopping Centre.

Bunny Rating-
Category: Café

Circa on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Cafe Simple, Darlington

 As the name suggests, Café Simple [74-80 Boundary Street (Corner of Boundary Street & Ivy Lane), Darlington is easy going, relaxed and so far, under the café radar hotspot. Tucked behind the Adina apartment hotel complex, and in the former location of 'a little on the side', Café Simple only opened its doors last week with locals already customising themselves as regulars and flocking in for coffee.


 Café Simple utilises beans from 'Red Fairy' boutique coffee roasters and their loose tea leaves are sourced from Ronnefeldt. They make the most out of their smallish open kitchen and deliver some very refined breakfast and lunch dishes.

Ronnefeldt Tea Selection
 Here is most of the menu at the moment minus a few baked goods that come from down the road at Brickfields (which is super delicious, but we'll save that for another blog post). I'm almost certain that the menu will be tweaked as they receive feedback from customers about their dishes!

Breakfast (8am-Noon):

Simple Crepe
Diced Banana & Strawberry in Yoghurt with Maple Syrup

Puffy Omelette
Eumundi Smokehouse Salmon & Dill / Mushroom & Parsley / Garlic, Roasted Tomato & South Coast Vintage Cheese
Organic Long Grain Rice, Pan Fried with Fresh Herbs, Mild Spices, Eumundi Smokehouse Salmon with Poached Eggs, Fresh Cucumber & Lemon

Simple Bubble Muesli
Poached Cinnamon Pear & Country Valley Yoghurt

Simple Tradition
Eumundi Smokehouse Bacon, Lemon Braised Mushroom & Blanched Spinach with Eggs of choice on Brickfields' Sourdough
Huevos Rancheros
Eumundi Smokehouse Chorizo Sausage, with Roasted Potato Wedges, Green Ratatouille & Roasted Tomato with Eggs of choice on Brickfields' Sourdough

Simple Fiasco
Eumundi Smokehouse Bacon Pieces, Onion Rings & Blanched Spinach with Eggs of choice on Brickfields' Sourdough

Lunch (Noon-3pm):

Three Mushroom & Walnut Pasta Gallery Ravioli in a Country Valley Cream & Mushroom Sauce


Eggplant, Onion & Roasted Almonds Pasta Gallery Ravioli in a White Wine & Roasted Tomato Sauce

Simple Burger
Open Lamb, Onion & Coriander Burger with Hot House Relish, Yoghurt & Fresh Cucumber, Tomato & Mescal Salad on Brickfields' Sourdough

Simple Pumpkin Bake
Organic Long Grain Brown Rice, Grilled Eggplant, Zucchini & Mushroom, topped with Roasted Pumpkin & Tahini Crust - served with Mescal

Black Mussels
with Garlic, Coriander, Chilli, Tomato, Onion & White Wine Sauce - served with Brickfields' Sourdough Crouton

Barramundi Fillet
with Red & White Sweet Potato Julienne Chips, Lemon Mayo& amp; Mescal Salad

Lamb Cutlets
with Polenta & Mushroom Chips, Blanched Spinach & Mushroom Jus

T-Bone Steak
with Roasted Kumera & Pumpkin Salad or Kumera Julienne Chips& amp; Mescal
Menu Holders

Kitchen Area
  Breakfast Tart
Shortcrust Pastry, Eumundi Smokehouse Bacon, Roast Tomato & Egg
 We seated ourselves on the covered porch area but there were also a handful of seats inside along with some stools and benches facing the street through the open windows.
Coffee Machine
Flat White


 Andrew orders the 'Puffy Omelette' for our brunch date and to be honest, I think we were all expecting a lot more from this dish. We had in our minds, an extravagant half fried, bubbly omelette with mushrooms occupying each air pocket. Instead, Andrew's $16 only provided a handful of thinly sliced button mushrooms on a regular omelette topped with parsley. Surely a dish like this one would be easier made at home without having to break into your life savings. Ultimately however, it was well made and quite tasty but it's a shame it ended up being a standard omelette rather than something being drawn from the carton of creativity.

  Puffy Omelette
Mushrooms & Parsley

 Patty's pick was the 'Huevos Rancheros' and this was a dish with its own little twists and turns. Not often do you see roasted potatoes and tomato combined with ratatouille in a breakfast dish but all the flavours worked well together. With the addition of free-styled poached eggs (which takes some confidence to achieve and were done to yolky perfection) and bits of chorizo sausage it had all the elements for an ultimate breakfast.

  Huevos Rancheros
 Eumundi Smokehouse Chorizo Sausage, with Roasted
Potato Wedges, Green Ratatouille & Roasted Tomato
 with Eggs of choice on Brickfields' Sourdough

 For my 'Simple Fiasco', the onion rings in the description immediately lit up the light bulb in my head as I imagined the crunchy, golden batter that screamed cholesterol enhancer, but more importantly, deliciousness. But then again, as I thought about it, it seemed quite farfetched to have fried onion rings for breakfast. Anyhow, after forking and knifing my way back to reality by digging into the not so dramatic onion rings it ended up being a very refined and tasty dish. Essentially a baked eggs served on a plate, the combination of onion, spinach and bacon went down especially well with some yolk and sourdough. The Eumundi Smokehouse bacon pieces turned chunks was the real winner for me, yum.

Simple Fiasco
Eumundi Smokehouse Bacon Pieces, Onion Rings &
Blanched Spinach with Eggs of choice on Brickfields' Sourdough

 Being only a short walk from the engineering faculty in Sydney Uni, this café is bound to become a hit with students looking for some variety with their coffee. Café Simple to me, screams potential and I'm sure that there will be changes within the café every week as they finds their feet within its new surroundings. Maybe it was the three of us sitting on the porch together for a Saturday brunch, or the honesty of the café once you walk in, but there seems to be something unique at Café Simple and so I'd definitely recommend a visit. We'll be back soon to see what's changed!
Bunny Rating-
Category: Café


Cafe Simple on Urbanspoon