There's a lot of buzz about Circa Espresso in Parramatta, and all with good reason. This cute and quirky cafe - which opened early last year - has recently recommenced trade after a six week break for holidays and renovations. Changes include an expanded indoor seating area and relocating the cooking station into a separate, albeit tiny, alcove out the back. The magic, however, is always been about the decor and the space, an unused laneway between two buildings converted into a funky cafe for locals.
Circa Espresso converted from a former laneway between two buildings
This unmarked cafe could easily be missed but for the swirls of graffiti art on the walls and the huddle of milk crates and stools on the footpath. The decor inside is an eclectic jumble of shabby chic meets urban grittiness creating a mood that is easily reminiscent of Melbourne's laneway cafes.
Coffee service counter
The crowd is young and enthusiastic, with a regular queue of people patiently waiting for takeaway coffees. Seating is mostly for pairs - larger groups will have to battle for the round table at the back or settle on the footpath outside. The new library alcove has a large leather lounge, coffee table and stools but it's probably not the best spot if you're planning on eating a meal.
Piccolo latte $3.50; iced coffee $4; and Aeropress coffee $5
Coffee is taken seriously here, robust but smooth, using a house blend of The Little Marionette coffee beans. They'd run out of cold drip single origin ($6), extracted for 6-8 hours using Yama iced filtration, but happily provide an Aeropress coffee using a single origin bean from Mexico. The Aeropress system uses a specific water temperature and gentle air pressure to create a coffee that has less bitterness and lower acidity.
Portobello mushrooms, Danish fetta and basil pesto $7
with caramelised onions and baby spinach on sourdough toast
In a city plagued with carbon copy breakfast menus, the offerings at Circa are tantalisingly different and pleasantly affordable. Fat slices of panfried Portobello mushrooms are matched with creamy Danish fetta, peppery rocket leaves and a splodge of caramelised onions on a thick slab of toasted sourdough.
Avocado on sourdough toast with sea salt, cracked pepper and lemon oil $7
Avocado on sourdough is another vegetarian treat, generously slathered with buttery yellow scoops of ripe avocado drizzled with lemon oil and dusted with freshly cracked pepper. A simpler order of sourdough with Hanks jam, peanut butter, Vegemite or Nutella will set you back four dollars.
Potato and dill cakes with scrambled egg, salmon gravalax and creme fraiche $14
There's nothing over $10 on the weekday menu, but at weekends you can pick up more substantial dishes that tip over the ten buck mark, like potato and dill cakes topped with curls of salmon gravalax and a fluffy omelette eiderdown.
The potato cakes are a highlight, studded with cubes of tender potato. Like many items on the menu, the salmon gravalax is cured in-house. They also make their own bircher muesli and passionfruit butter, and the muffins and cakes out the front are usually made by one of their staff members.
Baked eggs with sujuk, Danish feta, tomato and hints of chilli served in the pan $13
My choice today is the baked eggs, two runny eggs supplemented with squidgy cubes of Danish fetta, roughly chopped tomto and seared slices of sujuk, a spicy Turkish sausage. It's served in the frypan it was cooked in, requiring a little bit more space on the table, but ensures that all the delicious juices at the bottom of the pan can be soaked up with the the accompanying slices of toasted sourdough.
Although the food can be a little slow when the cafe is busy, it's easily forgiven in the face of genuinely warm and friendly service. There's a lot of love in this cafe, and it's hard to be grouchy over a slight delay to your food.
Penny farthings on the wall and a clippings tribute to The Phantom Menace
Tasty cheap food, good coffee and a chillaxed environment in funky environs. Next time I'm ordering the French toast with poached rhubarb, labne and pistachio ($13).
And in the latest exciting news development, they're currently working with Council to open a second venture on the other side of the train station soon.
PS. Yes there is a new header to the blog. Whaddya think?
Breads and desserts
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21 Wentworth Street, Parramatta, Sydney
Tel: +61 (0) 410 757 757 or +61 (0) 414 477 812
Tuesday to Saturday 8am-4pm
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2/13/2012 01:44:00 a.m.