Great coffee found off the beaten track

Taking out the award for Best Cafe in the Sydney Morning Herald’s ‘Good Food Guide’, Circa Espresso has certainly got all of Sydney wandering the streets of Parramatta to find this ‘off the beaten track’ gem.

Mural, laneway, narrow spaceLocated not far from the southern side Parramatta station, in what appears to be a converted Terrace House garage or laneway, the easiest way to find this place is by the distinctly colourful wall mural. There’s not a lot of seating in this narrow space, but they’ve definitely made the best use of every possible inch. Barrister and cashier benches line the walls, seating is mostly for two, and the kitchen is tucked neatly in between front and back eating areas. On good weather days, there is more outdoor seating of stools and milk crates, and being outside gives you a bit more ‘elbow room’. The eclectic mismatched furniture and old school decor assigns a very ‘hipster’ feel, and if not for the
food and coffee, you might think you were browsing a cool ‘retro’ second hand store. Despite the lack of space, and uniquely quirky atmosphere, there’s something very ‘homely’ about the whole experience.

The service is very warm and inviting, which is encouraging to see in such a popular establishment. The friendly wait staff not only ensured we found a good table inside but were patiently helpful when choosing from the enticing menu. They were prompt to bring our coffees even during busy times and our table water, decanted into recycled ginger beer bottles, was constantly topped up – which I find is always a thoughtful gesture.

eclectic hipster chicAs self confessed ‘coffee geeks’ Circa’s main focus is on specialty tea and coffee. All coffees are double ristretto based; blend designed in house, and roasted by ‘5 Senses’. Pour Over, Iced, Hot or Cold Drip, Aeropress, it’s all on offer at Circa. And with high detail coffee art and a smooth taste, the coffee not only tastes but also looks fabulous.

Hot Chocolate and Chai are also taken seriously with the African Red Hot Chocolate sourced from the best cocoa growing regions of West Africa, and the Blue Mountains Sticky Chai containing loose-leaf chai steeped in spices and soaked in organic honey.

Specialty teas are on offer in association with ‘Tea Craft’ and include rare White Peony Tea, Iron Goddess Oolong sweet floral tea, and an assertive Gunpowder Green Tea that compliments spicy Asian flavours as well as Middle-Eastern sweets.

While their focus is on coffee and tea, Circa offers an equally impressive food menu. With an emphasis on locally-sourced ingredients, it’s encouraging to see a variety of items that are very reflective of this cross-cultural suburb. Everything on the menu looks exciting – from the organic fruit & nut bread, to the breakfast rice with coconut milk, and you’ll be hard-pressed to decide between the Tuna with chick pea and mint salad or the Chicken Sandwich with apple, fennel and cabbage coleslaw for lunch.

Arriving around brunch time we decided on the Ottoman Eggs. Perfectly poached free-range eggs with crumbed eggplant, garlic labne, burnt chili and sage served with seeded sourdough baguette. This is an amazing food experience of flavours with the crunchy crouton like baguette providing the perfect base for topping with all ingredients. The garlic labne is a taste sensation all of its own but very well matched with the lightly fried eggplant. The absolute winner however is the chilli fried sage, providing a burst of spicy richness throughout the entire dish.

poached free-range eggs with crumbed eggplant, garlic labne, burnt chili and sage served with seeded sourdough baguette

My husband tried the French toast with poached rhubarb, mascarpone labne, cinnamon, berries, and crushed pistachio. The super thick toast is essential to accommodate the incredibly thick and rich yoghurt, which provides the perfect topping for the sweet rhubarb poached in rose water and citrus flavours. On this occasion the berries were strawberries with the addition of seasonal figs as a nice surprise. The generous sprinkle of cinnamon brings everything deliciously together.

French toast with poached rhubarb, mascarpone labne, cinnamon, berries, and crushed pistachioWith its original ambiance, accessible location, food creativity and coffee excellent, this Award winning cafe has ensured Parramatta now rates among the great cafe suburbs of Sydney.

21 Wentworth Street
Parramatta, NSW, 2150
P: 02 8896 6071
Open: Tuesday-Friday 7am to 4pm, Saturday-Sunday 8am to 3pm, Kitchen Closes all days at 2pm