In Short: Cosy cafe in the heart of Balmain. Focus on healthy shakes and juices, slow cooked specialities and excellent Campos sourced coffee.
Between Ryde and the city via Victoria Road there are just a few cafés worth the spend. We took a 5 minute diversion off Victoria Road and ambled into Balmain, a suburb that’s on a peninsula with houses and apartments attracting premium dollars and harbour views aplenty. Curiously though, it has never been a renowned for its gastronomical traditions. In terms of cafés, it’s an interesting dynamic with those that thrive based on their tenure and have garnered a loyal, steadfast following. Kafeine though, is a newer cafe and sits in the centre of Balmain on Darling Street and its fit-out is chic, with a touch of Bohemian. There’s dark floorboards, a striking blue tiled counter and gold fans whirling away. On a Sunday afternoon there’s a healthy turnover of customers but it never feels like a café bursting at the seams. We settle down and get a debrief from little Coco and Viner Sammi on the pool birthday party she attended that morning. During that time our drinks make it onto the table.
I try Kafeine’s coffee tonic. Placed on the table, there’s beautiful gradient from dark brown to a golden hue. I am taken by the citrus flavour of the lemon, with the tonic water providing a zesty burst. Even with the non traditional components, there is no mistaking that’s still a coffee. There’s a fruity acidity but it remains light on the palate. Definitively a summer coffee.
While the little one was at a party, I had spent the morning on my bike traversing the gorges to the north of Sydney city, and had a hankering for a good lunch to replace that spent energy. The pulled pork benny seemed to fit the bill perfectly. Stringy bits of pork were tender and juicy. The hollandaise was herbaceous and had a chilli kick. The eggs were perfectly gooey and combined with the pork, just decadent! It was my type of lunch, protein packed, creamy and spicy!
Kombucha is not that quirky drink for just the health freaks, it’s popping up on drinks menu across Sydney. Kafeine’s kombucha is one of the best I have tasted. It has really pleasant citrus notes and is superbly refreshing. It’s tangy with a mellow ginger ale finish. It’s a vibrant red and looks very cool presented in a beaker.
Kafeine do like the slow cooked method and Mavis follows my lead and goes with another ‘pulled’ dish. She chooses a pulled beef potato hash. While the slow cooked method is employed, that’s about where the similarities end. This dish will appeal to those of you who yearn those Sunday roast type lunches. The beef really does take centre stage with an appealing yet sedated flavour profile compared to the pork. The potato hash is cooked perfectly, and bacon, well bacon is welcome in almost any dish, any time! Carrots and peas complete the meat and 3 veg quota, and are cooked perfectly and add a textured dimension to the dish.
Before preparing for the long drive back to the northwest I indulge in a flat white. Kafeine feature Campos coffee and my coffee is strong yet smooth. I enjoy the tropical fruit notes and chocolate finish. There’s nice acidity but it isn’t overbearing. Expertly made.
We really enjoyed our little journey into Balmain and Kafeine. It’s definitely one of the best food experiences we’ve had in the Balmain area.