With so many options for breakfast and lunch in Sydney, finding something that really stands out is quite an achievement. We think we’ve done just that though at Kazbah in Balmain.
Sadly, Kazbah in Balmain is no more. It closed its doors in early 2020 – just before the terrible Coronavirus Covid-19 epidemic hit. You can still get your taste of Middle Eastern and North African delights at Kazbah’s Darling Harbour venue though. Ed
Angry ol’ Joe Strummer from ‘80s punk band The Clash wanted to ‘Rock the Casbah’. Perhaps that’s because the food wasn’t any good there! And perhaps if Joe and his band of not so merry men had visited Balmain before writing their hit song, they’d have had to think up some different lyrics.
The first time we visited the Kazbah in Balmain was with the ever-awesome Steph from LipstickAndCake.com. We ate a late breakfast there… then stayed for lunch too!
This time we booked in for brunch with a couple of friends visiting from Melbourne. The café scenes in both Melbourne and Sydney have reached a level of quality now that certainly demands extremely high quality for these places to stay competitive. That and a good atmosphere.
And this place stands up to these parameters with no problems at all. Kazbah is quite a big venue, and gets quite loud when service is in full swing. It makes for a perfect place for big groups and for a meal with kids in tow. We noticed the crayon pots on each table weren’t just to keep the grown-ups entertained!
As for the food, the Middle-Eastern/North African theme runs heavy through the menu. Go for a breakfast tagine to share – or they also do individual ones if you’re anything like me!
But this time, our friends ordered the bircher muesli with orange date and cinnamon salad, and the foul medammas (pronounced ‘fool’ I’ve since discovered!) – a mash of chickpeas, fava beans and tahini. I’m not a massive fan of bircher muesli – the texture upsets me – but my friend assured me it was good.
Mrs Romance went for the chakchouka scrambled eggs, smoked salmon and Turkish toast. The eggs were spicy but creamy, and the salmon went perfectly with the eggs too.
For me, I was torn between the Bisteeya – chorizo, prawns, kasseri cheese, roast peppers, labne and an avocado salsa, and the feta potato cake with smoked salmon, crème fraiche and red wine onion marmalade.
The waiter helped me decide and I went for the latter. I was very pleased with my/his choice! The potato cake was about 6cm thick, the chunks of feta in the cake were delicious, and the marmalade was sticky and a little sour. Next time though, I might ask if I can swap the crème fraiche with labne. Lordy, I love that labne!
In fact, every time I go here, I stare long and hard at the za’atar bread and labne, but then worry myself sick that it won’t be enough and I’ll have to order more. One day I’ll buck up the courage to order it.
If you or one of your party isn’t in the mood for such exotic flavours, Kazbah does still do more approachable regular café staples like eggs benedict or a very respectable iced coffee – like this one!
But if you’re going to order anything from Kazbah’s extraordinarily tempting menu, you’ve got to go for the pancake. It’s not for the faint-hearted, and you should be prepared to take some of it home with you. It’s more like a cake made in a pan than a traditional pancake, and it’s incredibly rich.
If there’s one thing we should probably warn you about it’s the water jugs. Bulbous, odd-looking and quite heavy, these things are brandished by the wait staff and used to pour water from great heights into your glass. It’s very entertaining, but a bit splashy. It also encourages an increased frequency in visits to the loo!
379 Darling Street
BREAKFAST: Saturday, Sunday + Public Holidays – 8:00am-3:00pm
LUNCH: Tuesday – Sunday – 11:30am-3:00pm
DINNER: Tuesday – Saturday – 5:30pm-9:30pm