The Cottage, Balmain
I have a friend who is always going overseas for long periods of time. Bless her cotton socks, I am so happy for her that she is exploring the world and having all these amazing experiences, but I hate it because I always miss her when she leaves.
Recently, to my great delight, she returned from a four month stint working in the States and travelling through Europe. This return (plus the birthday we missed while she was away) meant a special celebration with our other good friends was in order.
After asking around and conducting a little bit of research, I discovered The Cottage in Balmain. From what I could tell, it was the perfect place to catch up with friends. Somewhere a bit different with an enticing and reasonably priced menu. The rest of the gang approved so I called up and booked a table.
The only qualm I have is that The Cottage do sittings. I don’t like to rant on this blog (hence my Positive Experiences Only Policy), but I seriously cannot stand sittings. Sittings mean you have a choice of 6pm or 8.30pm. Too early or too late. What’s wrong with a good old reasonable time of 7 or 7.30?
We opted for the too early option, figuring, at least, we could go somewhere nearby for drinks afterwards.
Luckily, the atmosphere made up for it. The Cottage is situated inside an old cottage (who would have thought!) on Darling Street in Balmain. It’s two storeys with an outdoor terrace and is filled with all things vintage – mismatched furniture, frames and mirrors. There are also hanging plants around the place. We were seated at the front of the restaurant on the ground floor. We were surrounded by a mantle housing various trinkets (old frames and vases and candle holders), and frames with art and vintage photos on the walls. It was nice and cosy and felt very much like a stress-free dinner party. Our table was big and spacious which made me happy instantly. A big table meant we’d have plenty of room for all the food we were about to eat. No banging elbows or trying to squeeze plates onto a full table.
The next thing that made me extremely happy was the drinks menu. The Cottage serves punch. Legitimate punch in traditional punch bowls. The reason this made me so happy is because I’ve had many a “punch party” with the girls I was eating dinner with. In fact, the present we bought for the returning/birthday girl was a punch set to use in the summer, and a bottle of champagne to go with it that I bought through online wine sales.
We ordered the Passion Punch ($36) – “freshly squeezed orange juice, fresh passionfruits, lots of white rum and topped with lemonade”. The menu says that these punches serve two or three, but there was plenty of punch for all six of us. And it tasted so good! I could easily have drunk the entire bowl myself. If I wasn’t driving…
Next up, we decided we’d order a banquet, which would make things quicker and easier. And also, I’d seen the banquet menu online and it looked too good to pass up. There are two options – a $35 option and a $55 option. We ordered the $35.00 banquet, which sounded like a generous amount of (delicious) food.
First up, calamari with coriander, chilli and fresh lime. This was absolutely scrumptious and very moreish. The calamari was tender and not too salty.
House cut chips with The Cottage ketchup and aioli. As far as chips go, these were good ones!
Aranchini with lemon, mint, pea and haloumi. I love my aranchini (and haloumi) and these were very good – tasty and so cheesy!
Snow pea salad with red onion & cabbage, carrot and orange oil. This salad was really, really tasty. The flavours were fantastic and the fresh oranges added a burst of juicy sweetness. I couldn’t stop eating it.
Portuguese chicken pizza – marinated chicken, iceberg and peri peri sauce. The Cottage have a huge pizza oven, which meant this pizza had a thin and perfectly crispy base. The peri peri sauce was very flavoursome and the iceberg gave it extra crunch.
Chicken breast and wing with rice pilaf, dried fruit, yogurt and pistachio crumbs. This was probably my favourite dish out of all of them. The chicken was so juicy and delicious, and the yogurt dressing was perfectly tangy and the wild rice pilaf was so good.
There was also baby corn with lime oil, parmesan and micro coriander, but I didn’t get a great photo of that dish. It was very good though.
Dessert pizza – orange marshmallows, peanut m&ms, caramel, house made nutella & peanut brittle. This was a very sweet, indulgent treat and a fun way to round off the meal.
As per the sitting rule, we had to vacate the table by 8.30. Until then, we had a great time and the food overall was really good. I recommend The Cottage for a group dinner if you’re looking for somewhere fun with a kitschy/vintage vibe.
Would I go again? Yes, most definitely. There’s plenty of menu left for me to try!