In my quest to compile a list of Sydney's best babycinos, I came across a photo of Bar Contessa's little delight on the SMH's Good Food website. So as quick as a flash I had my little family breakfasting in Balmain the very next weekend.
Bar Contessa is one seriously cool cafe. The owners have tried to bring a little bit of NYC to Sydney. Normally it's the kind of cafe that I would walk straight past if I had my boys in tow, as I would have thought it was just way too cool for school and not welcoming of children. How wrong would I have been!
As soon as you walk in you will see the beautiful Contessa painted across one wall of the cafe. She dominates the industrial cool space. There is seating both inside and out, but I would recommend sitting inside, as Bar Contessa is located on busy Darling St and there is a bus stop right at the front door which may not be too good for wandering toddlers. The cafe has only one high chair (that I could see), so you might need to come prepared and squeeze your pram in or have your little one in a baby carrier or on your knee just in case the high chair isn't available. The morning we visited there were loads of families all piled in - that babycino is obviously a big draw card!
Besides the amazing babycino I think your kidlets will also find the nutella and banana scrolls at Bar Contessa "absolutely amazeballs" (to quote No. 2 son)! These wickedly delicious scrolls take centre stage of the front counter and as long as your child doesn't have any allergies, I think they will demand and devour these very quickly indeed, and you of course will need to have a little taste test as they are oh so very good.
Now there is only one way to eat this bad boy, as No. 1 son demonstrates (so make sure you take plenty of baby wipes with you!). There isn't a dedicated kids menu but I think you will find quite a few options for your kidlets to eat off the main menu. The glass cabinet is also full of muffins, croissants, cakes and other delights that all kiddliwinks will like.
The menu is extensive at Bar Contessa. It covers all of your sweet and savoury favourites for breakfast. Our poached eggs from the Hawkesbury Valley on organic sourdough and farmhouse omelette (double smoked ham, field mushrooms, roma tomatoes, caramelised onion & cheddar) also served on organic sourdough, were absolutely delicious. I'm pretty sure everything served at Bar Contessa is absolutely delicious.
At lunch time the menu covers salads, parmys, pasta, burgers and their BRAT sounds perfectly bratty to me: grilled hickory smoked bacon, rocket, smashed avaocado, roma tomato, dijon mustard & basil pesto mayo on toasted organic sourdough.
They serve coffee from The Grounds at Bar Contessa, so although we haven't been to this very popular cafe yet, I can now say that I have had their coffee, and it is a great brew. So if you are in the neighbourhood in between meals I would thoroughly recommend a coffee and one of the yummy looking cakes or scrolls in their front counter - they have cinnamon scrolls that look just as good if not better than the nutella ones.
One of the reasons I don't like venturing into too cool for school cafes in Sydney with my babes, is that the staff give you the evil eye as soon as you walk in - you can be made to feel like second class citizens just because you decided to breed. But there was none of that attitude at Bar Contessa. When we arrived a little after 8am the place was already quite busy. There was one lady running the floor and she was awesome. She made everyone feel oh so welcome, she ensured the boy's scrolls were served immediately and she was just amazingly friendly - service scored 10 out of 10.
So next time you find yourself in down town Balmain, don't walk on past Bar Contessa - most definitely step on in and partake in their amazing coffee and baked goods and pretend for a wee moment that you are just hangin' in down town NYC with your kidlets being the uber cool parents that I know you all are x
371 Darling St, Balmain NSW 2041
Mon - Fri: 7.00am - 3.30pm
Sat - Sun: 8.00am - 3.00pm