It’s clear from the moment that you walk through its doors that Charlotte Café is the hub of Birchgrove; a homely, creative suburb on the Balmain Peninsular, Sydney. And with its recent renovations, Charlotte feels even more like a home away from home.
To say that we felt welcome when we walked in sells Charlotte Café short a bit. The place has a lovely feel and the best range of seating options I think I’ve ever seen in a local café.
With our mate Steph from Lipstick And Cake (here’s her write-up of Charlotte Cafe), we planted ourselves out the back near the big windows looking out over the little garden.
It was a rainy autumnal Sydney morning, so we felt pretty cosy at our table. At the same time we got the impression that on a warm summer’s day – with those folding windows flung open – the light airy space they’ve created here would be cool and refreshing.
At first we were a bit confused as we looked around for signs of renovation though. Everything had a well-loved look to it; paintwork wasn’t glossy, floor was well trodden, furniture much sat-in.
But that’s exactly the idea.
Remember, this café is and has been a hub for the community of Birchgrove for so long, had owners – Family Ghebar – glammed up the interior too much, it would have lost its homely appeal. It would no longer feel like the place Birchgrovians (?) have been coming to for their victuals since they can remember.
Talking of food, we had some issues with the menu; we just couldn’t choose!
Coffee was easy, and we were all pleased to see our cups of steaming joe appear in front of us. Barista/manager Jason Ghebar has done justice to the Campos beans they use and his staff’s artistry on the rosetta is fun and impressive.
For food, we didn’t know what to do. Should we go with a Middle Eastern meal with some of Mama Helen’s signature crispy falafel dish, Italian for some pasta, a burger, or a good old Aussie style brekkie.
Mrs Romance ended up ordering the Charlotte Special – an intriguing yet delicious take on eggs benedict: poached eggs, smoked salmon, baby spinach, capers, fish roe, Spanish onion and a light hollandaise sauce on sourdough.
Steph was torn between one of the omelette options and the southern fried chicken burger. Having recently been away to the States, the chicken was too tempting for her.
As for me, I couldn’t go past the Charlotte Burger. I felt it was my professional duty to sample this magnificent offering. And it certainly was that.
I’m still not sure how I managed to fit the double burger, double cheese, pickled mustard and tomato sauce monolith into my mouth. The silence at the table suggested neither were my co-eaters.
The burger was superb – though the meat could have done with a little less time on the grill. The chips were beyond critique.
So if you’re looking for a place that does great food, excellent coffee and that embodies a suburb, look no further than Charlotte Café, Birchgrove.
Open: Mon-Sun 6.00am – 4.00pm
127 Rowntree Street
It’s easy to get to Charlotte’s Café from the city. Hop on the 441 bus from the QVB and it drops you at the door. If you’re driving, parking during the week is surprisingly good for a suburb famed for its lack of road space.
And if it’s asking too much of you to come south of the Bridge, don’t worry. Charlotte’s Little Sister café is in Manly!
Is there a café or pub that sums up your home suburb? Where does everyone come to hang out where you live? Tell us in the comments!