In Short: Extensive menu that challenges the palate with its diversity, brilliant coffee and friendly service. Definitely one of the best cafes in The Hills and North Western Sydney
I have to admit I am little embarrassed that I am reviewing The Baron in Caste Hill only now, about year after we started this blog. It should have been one of our first posts, as this little spot outside Castle Towers is one of my favourite places in all of Sydney. We have been coming here for 5 years and the quality has sustained. While faces in the kitchen and on the ‘Mazza’ have come and gone, the team never rest on their laurels with new dishes appearing on the menu every time we come back.
The space is the antithesis of a mall café. It’s a little edgy, concrete walls and floors with a rock & roll sound track in the background. It’s a café that would not be out of place in Surry Hills or Marrickville, but we love the edginess and boldness and are in gratitude to the gang of boys that brought this café to The Hills.
Most of the team know what I have, so not long after taking our seat at the communal table, a cappuccino arrives. For their milk based coffees The Baron use Single Origin Roasters Paradox blend. It’s a mild blend with flavours of berries and chocolate. Consistency with The Baron’s coffee is one of their hallmarks. The temperature and viscosity of the coffee is spot on. I put forward this as exhibit number 1, as perhaps the best coffee you will find in The Hills and North Western Sydney!
Greens, ham and eggs have been through many iterations at The Baron. One of my all time favourites was when they had cavolo nero for the greens component. The garlic and umami from the anchovies were just sublime and now I always keep my eyes wide open in the fresh produce section looking for this delicious veg. On this visit though, the greens are represented by Chinese cabbage, and is equally impressive. With specks of dried chilli and fried in soya sauce, it’s done perfectly and flavoursome. Ham is in the form of prosciutto and marries perfectly with the fried eggs. I love the pickled green chillis too, which add a layer of vinegary heat. Eggs ooze all over the plate, which is perfect as the toast mops it all up. Greens, ham and eggs continues to be my one of my favourites on The Baron menu.
Excuse me if I go a little pun crazy as Poke seemings to poke up here, there and everywhere across cafe menus in Sydney. A lot of my friends are waxing lyrical about Poke. It is not surprising then that The Baron, will inject their creativity into creating a memorable incarnation. To me The Baron’s version reflects the Hawaiian heritage with summer in a bowl flavours. Salmon is lightly tossed with soy and sesame oil and sesame seeds, with a slight crunch from the green onions. The black rice is al dente for me, and while delicious, provides a textural point of difference. It is also cooked with a dash of vinegar which imparts a slight tart flavour on the rice. The avocado adds a creamy texture and flavour to the dish. The edamame is super yummy and is blanched in salted water. The favourite part of the salad for me, besides the salmon, is the seaweed salad. Sweet, crunchy, salty, it’s like a taste explosion with every mouthful. You or someone on your table ought to be poked if it’s not ordered. It’s a perfectly balanced dish full of goodness!
Our challenge for the 7 year old is to venture off the kids menu when we go out, and The Baron comes to the rescue with mounds of bacon wedged in a roll with avo, fried egg and mayo in their BAE roll. The bacon dances the sweet and salty tango, with the avocado adding a creamy texture. The mayo is like no other, with real honey-like sweetness. It has to be the definitive BAE, and while our little one struggled to finish all that bacon, I had no trouble polishing off the leftovers.
I finish up with a batch brew. It’s aromatic with a berry type acidity that fades away. A light medium bodied coffee which yields a strong flavour with a tea like finish. It’s such an easy drinking coffee, and a mark of quality that it can stand on its own without milk and sugar and deliver buckets of flavour.
The Baron came to The Hills and salvaged all of us from mediocre cafe fare. They injected some attitude along with consistently well made coffee and for that reason, we will keep coming back for years to come.