Thursday, April 17, 2014

Chill-out Sunday session at Café del Mar Sydney

Café del Mar, Rootop Terrace, Cockle Bay, Sydney
Café del Mar is synonymous with chill-out music, beach parties and Mediterranean glamour – and it's now here for Sydney-siders to enjoy. Opened late last year on the rooftop terrace at Cockle Bay Wharf, Café del Mar Sydney is a more food-focused offering than its Ibiza party animal counterpart.

Rooftop balcony
While it's not quite a beachfront location, the rooftop terrace position offers a unique view of Darling Harbour and Cockle Bay. With the balcony facing the west, it's about the best we can do in terms of watching the sun set beyond the casino and other Pyrmont buildings.

Inside restaurant
In a nod to Café del Mar's Spanish heritage and the Sydney venue's food focus, they have appointed Miguel Maestre as a brand ambassador, while head chef Ben Fitton incorporates Mediterranean touches to the menu's share plates and mains which features Australian produce and the fun flavours that Sydney is known for.

Rojo tres red sangria
Seated on the edge of the outdoor balcony, the pitchers of house sangria from the outside bar were too much fun for a group of girls to pass up for a Sunday lunch.

With three of each red and white sangria variations, we started with the Rojo Tres – a deep red concoction of Ketel One Citroen vodka, Westend Tempranillo, saffron syrup, pomegranate, lime and a long sprig of rosemary.

Pretty and full of diverse flavours, the Rojo Tres was a nice start to lunch, and certainly not too strong on the boozy content.

Blanco uno white sangria
The second pitcher, the Blanco Uno was perfect for the warm afternoon, featuring St Germain elderflower liqueur, Square One Vodka, Richland sauvignon blanc, lemongrass syrup, cucumber and lime topped off with soda.

Bread and olive oil
Having decided to have a range of the share plates among four of us and plenty of chatter, we first dived into the complimentary sourdough bread and olive oil.

La Luna goat’s cheese, roasted baby beets, glazed pecans
For cheese lovers, there are cheese plate selections as well as the Holy Goat La Luna cheese in the share plate section of the menu.

Divine in its warmed, melted state atop toasted bread, the La Luna goat's cheese – some of our country's finest – was the absolute star while the salad of baby golden and red beets, frisee and other leaves, and sweetly glazed pecan nuts was extremely well matched.

Flash fried dusted baby prawns, jalapeño mayonnaise
We adored the deep fried school prawns in the short moments they survived; a bowl full of crisp, golden and well-seasoned, shell-on crustaceans, served with deep fried herb leaves and sliced chilli alongside a bitey jalapeño mayonnaise.

Devoured in their whole, crisp state with a squeeze of lime, school prawns done well like this are just about my favourite seafood starter.

Crispy cased Berkshire pig jowls, truffle mash
The pig jowl dish sounded too interesting to ignore, served as two crisp rolls split in half encasing pulled meat from Berkshire pigs' cheeks.

The "spring rolls" were oily, though considering a fatty cut of pig that's then deep fried, I shouldn't have expected any less.

Crispy cased Berkshire pig jowls, truffle mash
The truffle mash was a comfort, despite being a bit odd as part of a share plate. Indeed, something more refreshing to cut through the richness of the pork jowl may have reduced the dish's sense of gluttony.

Chilli salt & pepper squid, black ink, finger lime aioli
Café del Mar's jaw-dropper rendition of Sydney's favourite salt and pepper squid was impressive in both appearance and taste.

Chilli salt & pepper squid, black ink
Inky black on the surface, it was a bit of a scary proposition but the tender pieces of squid were anything but. The squid was livened up with sliced red chillies in a salt and pepper seasoning, with zingy finger lime aioli served alongside.

Chick pea and cumin crusted quail, shaved baby fennel, blood orange
The quail dish presented one plump quartered bird, deep fried in a chick pea and cumin batter.

Like a really fancy take on KFC, the medium-rare cooked quail was served on a sprightly salad of shaved baby fennel, blood orange segments and parsley; making for a fantastically fresh and moreish dish that was perfect for sharing between four.

Café del Mar-tini
We ended our lunch session with drinks in the sun, with my choice of the Café del Mar-tini serving well as a sweet dessert too.

Featuring Ciroc coconut vodka, pineapple, basil and lime, it was like a clean, fresh take on a piña colada with just as much sweetness as the original.

Outdoor balcony bar
With a DJ at the far end of the outdoor balcony, the music noticeably picked up in volume at about 2pm when Sunday Sessions commenced, with a less chilled and much more made/dressed-up crowd taking over the balcony.

Conversation became impossible at this point, especially when seated directly beneath an outdoor speaker, and people watching/gawking took over, which was a pretty chilled out way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Café del Mar Sydney front entrance
There are plans in train to open Café del Mar venues at other waterfront locations around Australia, but in the meantime, Café del Mar Sydney is the sunset, chill-out place to be.

Food, booze and shoes dined at Café del Mar Sydney with credit, with thanks to Agency G.

Cafe del Mar on Urbanspoon


Joseph said...

why no prices

Cassie | Journey From Within said...

Oh wow,
everything looks and sounds great!
But the school prawns may have stolen my heart! XD
The squid, oh my... The blackness ... but it also sounds absolutely delicious, must overcome the appearance ;)

- Cassie

Tina said...

Hi Joseph - Sorry, I'm lazy on that front and don't usually include prices. Check the venue's own website ;)

Tina said...

Hi Cassie - Both the prawns and squid were excellent!


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