The Cottage Bar and Kitchen on Darling Street, Balmain feels just like home. Or at least like Grandma’s.
We sat in what would probably be Granny’s front room, round the corner from the main bar and just near the kitchen. It was a comfortable little spot surrounded by old kitchen tools and odd little pictures.
This theme runs throughout the restaurant with a strange eclectic mix of ornaments and objects. Designed by the impressive Luchetti Krelle (of Momofuku Seiobo, Hinky Dinks and Sake fame), each room is so full of fun, quirky details that you could probably spend all day looking around and still find something new. See if you can find the painting of Patrick Swayze as a prince.
Although the restaurant is decked out to look and feel like Grandma’s house, full of strange trinkets and bric-a-brac, the menu shows another side to the Cottage; a side of friendly sophistication.
We ordered the roast cauliflower with pulled lamb shoulder and the seared scallops with pear and elderflower puree to start with.
Mrs R really doesn’t like cauliflower and has very strong opinions on it. However, Rob – one of the owners of the Cottage – recommended this dish. It was really very good. The cauliflower had a lovely nutty flavour, countered well with the sour raisins and pomegranate, and the pulled lamb was tender and delicious.
The four plump scallops were sweet and juicy with their seared edges were perfectly caramelised and crispy.
Mrs Romance went on to choose the maple and cider beef brisket with red cabbage and apple slaw. The slabs of beef were caramelised on the edges but juicy and pull-apart tender in the middle, and the slaw matched the brisket perfectly.
I couldn’t go past the rectangular wood fired pizza range – especially when the diavola pizza came with lots of salami – the amount I’d put on if I were making it at home – olive slivers, chilli oil and gorgonzola cheese. I’m a sucker for gorgonzola!
We had every intention of trying the dessert menu, but we were so full we decided to finish with a cocktail. The drinks menu is as intriguing and full of surprises as the shelves of the restaurant’s interior.
Mrs Romance had the White Chocolate and Chai Martini – Reposado tequila, crème de cacao, chai syrup, lemon juice and pineapple. It served a perfect sweet supplement to one of the recommended desserts.
I, on the other hand, prefer savoury dishes anyway, so I ordered a Speyside Sour. A clever blend of 12-year-old Glenfiddich scotch, ginger liqueur, lemon juice, honey water and orange bitters. Perfect.
We have been back to The Cottage since by the way, as people kept telling us to order all the other things we’d missed the first time. The key lime pie is excellent as is the salted caramel choc tart.
The cheese plate is surprisingly good value – especially when a lot of places tend to rip you off with after-dinner cheese.
For drinks, the beer menu shouldn’t be ignored and the punchbowl cocktails are a great way to share a drink with friends. Mrs R recommends the Passionfruit Punch – though I’d stick with the Speyside Sours!
A perfect venue for a dinner date night, drinks and a bite with friends or even an event, where you can book larger tables or the upstairs dining area.
The Cottage Bar and Kitchen
Open: Mon to Wed: 5pm – midnight, Thurs to Sat: midday – midnight, Sun: midday – 10pm.
342 Darling Street
Tel: 02 8084 8185
The Cottage on Facebook.