It’s well and truly winter in Sydney with cooler temperatures and the occasional gust of icy wind and rain. On the first day of such colder weather, KT and I were lucky enough to attend a Winter Menu Tasting event at The Cottage Bar and Kitchen in Balmain.
I live in the lower North shore and work in the city so I rarely venture out to the inner West suburbs like Balmain. But whenever I do, I love it. There is so much history with Balmain being one of Sydney’s oldest working class, industrial suburbs. It’s now home to well known creative types like artists, actors and musicians and has a trendy but village-like feel. It’s best known for its cafes, restaurants (like Kazbah which I blogged about here.), produce stores and pubs.
I’m not a fan of pubs so I was happily surprised to learn about a cosy small bar in the area. Located on Balmain’s bustling Darling Street, The Cottage Bar and Kitchen is inside a quaint, two-storey sandstone cottage. There is a front garden with plenty of tables under warm heaters and a front porch (where a band was playing at the event). The interior is lovely and spacious with appropriately themed décor including bay windows, distressed wooden tables and chairs, plenty of gallery walls and fresh flowers in pots and vases. The bar is dimly lit with pretty candles and decorated with antique teacups, bowls of fruit and large pumpkins. It’s homely and cosy, and just perfect for a wintery evening.
The winter menu, created by Head Chef Ellen Young, included a variety of appetisers and dishes for the season.
We started with an appetiser of cold Yellowfin tuna tartare with beetroot relish, apple, pickled fennel and dukkah topped on a small cracker. Despite being a little cool for the wintery evening, it was a great combination of fresh and somewhat spicy ingredients. We loaded up on the delicious second appetiser of mushrooms stuffed with barley, dried fruit, herbs and chevre because we sadly missed out on the tomato and mozzarella arancini balls. (The photos also didn’t turn out as nicely as I hoped so you’ll have to use your imagination to picture these treats.)
As expected for a winter menu, the main dishes were hearty, warm and comforting. KT and I enjoyed the maple and cider beef brisket with horseradish cream and a side of celeriac crisps.
But my favourite dish was the pulled lamb shoulder with roasted cauliflower, raisins and vinaigrette. The meat was tender and warm and it was the perfect combination of ingredients and flavours. We might have had two tasting portions each – or it could have been three… It was just that good!
There was also an endless supply of freshly shucked oysters and a selection of cheeses from the UK, France, Spain and Italy. KT said the oysters were delicious.
The cheese platter was so popular. We only arrived 10 minutes late and there was hardly any cheese left! But I managed to push my way into the crowd and try some of the blue cheese and a very strong soft cheese from France (I believe). The blue cheese was perfect and the soft cheese was deliciously creamy and salty despite being so strong that my eyes watered!
So I highly recommend The Cottage in Balmain, especially if you want to spend an evening in a cosy small bar instead of a pub. It’s the perfect spot for a lovely evening with friends in a warm and pretty venue during the colder winter months. Plus the new winter menu is definitely worth trying.
Thank you very much, team Pendulum Communications, for the invitation and a lovely evening!