I love Contessa in Balmain – one of the best serviced, uber busy, fantastic food venues in the area. And any place that serves you Espresso Martinis for brunch is some kind of heaven. I visited here quite a few months back and fell in love. I wanted to squeeze in another couple of visits before I wrote the review so I could smash most of the menu but alas life is busy trying to crush me under the weight of responsibility and a calendar designed to encourage heart attacks.
CONTESSA BALMAIN VENUE:
Located on Darling Rd, Balmain, Contessa is more designed as a hole in the all venue than a sprawling, packed to the rafters high-traffic venue. What you see above is mostly it. Behind the back counter is a kitchen, above the back wall is a mirror that reflects back increasing the visual size of the venue. And one wall has a beautiful mural, the one for the title pic of this article. When I think of the return on floor space for this venue I can just imagine the smile on Marco, the owner’s face. Bravo! This place definitely ticks the location location location box.
We arrived to a four deep queue, people waiting on the bus stop next door and a place that was buzzing. At first I freaked out a little because it’s hard without a large enough space to spread out, shoot and review. But my favourite hostess/ waitress of the year, Connie, placed an espresso martini in our hands, sweet talked us into comfortable bliss and set us up for one epic brunch.
ESPRESSO MARTINIS AND BABY DRINKS FOR BREAKFAST:
Contessa serves coffee by The Grounds, Tea selections from Tea Craft and offers the usual smoothies, juices, iced drinks, and milkshakes. But then they mix it up with boozy brunch drinks. Bellinis, Mimosas, Bloody Marys will impress and Espresso Martinis, beers and Vinos will make you squee. Then there is the kid’s drink that everyone that ventures to Contessa has to have, especially if you have an instagram account. Froggicinos are a must people!! Screw the kids, all the inner children of the world need one of these cute frothy cuteness explosions!!
The menu is well thought out, it’s not too big but has a nice selection. The lunch menu is salads, burgers and then Italian fare. I need to return to smash out some lunch but we dined for brunch and stuck to the All Day breakfast menu. With bread and sweets by Luxe, free-range eggs from the Hawkesbury Valley and mostly everything sourced from the most local and fresh place they can find the menu is uncompromised and delicious. Banana breads and organic muffins look amazing, Farmer Joe Burnt Fig and Cinnamon Almond Muesli is a must for the muesli die-hards and Brioche French Toast with crispy hickory smoked bacon, caramelised banana and lashings of real maple syrup will make your knees wobble.
You can tailor your own eggs and extras from a very long list, devour an epic breakfast burrito, or indulge in a smoked salmon omelette or you can inhale what we worshipped……..
WHAT WE ORDERED:
It seriously felt like we had so much more than just our two dishes but that was it – I really need to get back here ASAP!!!
CONTESSA CORN CAKES – $19.50
Served w/ guacamole, baby spinach, fresh tomato salsa & balsamic reduction w/ choice of : hickory smoked bacon, tasmanian smoked salmon, sauteed field mushrooms or chorizo.
CONTESSA FRY UP – $22.50
Two fried free range eggs, ( NO U CAN’T CHANGE THE EGGS! ) : – )
hickory smoked bacon, chorizo sausage, grilled roma tomato, field mushrooms, hash brown & house relish
on toasted organic sourdough.
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
These dishes were both as smashing as each other. My guest, Laarni, went the Corn Cakes with Chorizo and we both loved it. That balsamic reduction with the guacamole on top was a breakfast meal highlight of the year. It had a real Mexican breakfast feel to it and I would love to smash this baby again.
My Contessa Fry Up was, simply put, the best big breakfast of the year, the one I have judged all others since our meal here.
Contessa Balmain will make my Top 10 List this year, such a superb venue. A venue that is so incredibly busy but never faulted on service, quality, or attention to detail. And as for Connie, she is the cherry on the cake of this venue, one of the best waitstaff of all time.
SCORE BREAKDOWN: 3/3 food, 2/2 service, 1/1 drinks, 1/1 venue & ambience, 1/1 cost, 1/1 toilets and 1/1 bonus
Contessa Balmain Deets:
PH: (02) 9555 7399
371b Darling Street, Balmain, 2041
BOOKINGS: No – get in early because this place gets queues
Mon – Fri; 7am to 330pm
Sat & Sun: 8am to 330pm
(Kitchen closes at 3pm everyday)
BAR: Yes but limited to boozy brunch stuff
LOCAL DELIVERY: Unsure
VEGETARIAN OPTIONS: Yes
GLUTEN FREE OPTIONS: Yes
KID FRIENDLY: Definitely – every kid and adult child will want Froggacinos
*** JK (and any guests of Spooning Australia) were invited guests of the establishment and/or any PR agencies representing them. However, as always, if it was shite I would happily tell you as such ***