Alex: Since I turned 18 some 3 years ago, there has been many a Sunday sesh at Darling Harbour’s hotspot Cafe Del Mar. It’s one of those places that oozes appeal. It’s classy, it’s got the views and at one stage. Was one of the ‘it’ places to be seen in Sydney. Perhaps it’s still like that but it’s been a while since I’ve been there….ha see what I did there 😉
Coming along with me on this particular eating adventure was my best friend Jordan and what better way to start off a long lunch then with a carafe of Sangria Rojo: Vodka, Peach schnapps, homemade syrup, orange, lemon, red wine $45. I’ve been lucky enough to have had some pretty great sangria around Spain but to compare would been a little unfair. I did enjoy the sangria but perhaps adding some fresh fruit/berries would elevate the drink and bring it back to it’s roots which is what people love so much about sangria.
We were pretty ravenous on the day so the bread was a Godsend. Loved that they mixed the oil and vinegar together.
We decided to share one entree as I remember the servings of the mains being quite generous last time i visited so we went with the Seared Atlantic scallops, baby carrot escabech, spiced carrot puree, crisp Jamon $27. Lots of interesting flavours that were coming from a range of different spices. Tumeric was the first thing that hit me. Before the entree hit the table I was actually expecting something quite clean and bare so seeing this was rather comforting as it was presented more as a homely dish. It seems as though there was perhaps influence from Indian based flavours. I thoroughly enjoyed it, especially because it was such a different approach to how other competitors are presenting this sort of dish. TIP: Get more bread to scoop up the puree. It was amazing.
For my main I went with the Crisp Berkshire pork belly, rolled loin, morcilla sausage, roast pear, cavalo nero, jus $39. I’ve had many pork belly dishes in my time, and it’s come to the point now where straight away you can tell if it’s going to be a hit or a miss. To say I was surprised is a complete understatement. I’d be lying if I didn’t say this was probably one of the best pork belly’s I’ve had in a while. The pork had just the right amount of fat to balance with the rest of the dish. A thin layer of ear shatteringly crispy skin that was phenomenal. The only thing that I would say is that I could have probably done without the pear but that’s just my personal opinion. Love it or leave it.
We also went with a side of Crispy brussel sprouts, walnut vinaigrette, ricotta salata, lemon $12. These were legit the star of the show. So moreish, so buttery, soooooo good. If they weren’t so rich and heavy in flavour I probably wouldn’t feel so bad about practically eating the whole dish myself, and it was a very generous serving.
Jordan went with the Crisp skinned Cone Bay Barramundi, SA squid, chorizo, borlotti beans, butternut pumpkin, salsa verde $38 Definitely one of the lighter options on the menu however it was unanimous that it lacked a hit of flavour whether that was from spice or seasoning. The crispy skin added a nice texture to the overall dish. The chorizo was beautifully cooked and a lot of the dishes flavour came from that. Jordan also made mention that the purée and vegetables balanced off the dish nicely.
No surprise to anyone these days but my favourite part of a meal – dessert. We decided to get two. The first being the Double dipping churros, chocolate fondue, dolce de leche $10. Generous serving at a great price. The dulce de leche was the winner out of the two. The churros were nice and crisp with a nice amount of cinnamon covering the churro.
The Sunken chocolate mousse cake, champagne ice cream with raspberry ripple $14 was probably what I was most excited about but unfortunately was the let down of the day. The cake bit was fine. Nice and moist and if you’re a chocolate lover you’ll appreciate it and the champagne ice cream was seriously killer. An interesting combination that I’ve never had before which I really enjoyed. Don’t give your children any of it though! The issue with the dish I felt was the mousse itself. The texture was slightly off and just left a sickly feeling in the stomach. I might need to go back and try it again without eating before.
TIP: If you’re planning on ordering the mousse cake ask for a side of chocolate sauce and drip it over the top. Like so.
We got there at 3.00pm for a late lunch and didn’t end up leaving till about 6.45 so we definitely overstayed our welcome. Sorry guys! But the good thing was we had a nice view for sunset.
I’ve always had a soft spot for you Cafe Del Mar, so I’ll definitely be back even if it’s just to go through and try every single cocktail on your menu.
Until next time!