Translating to “Cafe of the Sea”, Café del Mar Sydney has been open nearly a year, under the guidance of Food Director Miguel Maestre and Head Chef Ben Fitton. It has become a scenic spot where you can enjoy a relaxed lunch that stretches all the way into dinner.

Located at the very top storey of Cockle Bay Wharf, this picturesque café boasts a decor that transports you to the Mediterranean, with blue drapery matching a maritime themed color palette.

Blue drapes match the marine themed decor of Cafe Del Mar

But while you might expect a menu heavy on seafood options, Café Del Mar actually utilises ingredients and techniques from all over the region, to evoke the laid-back atmosphere of a Mediterranean holiday.

Crispy cased Berkshire Pig Jowls, Truffle MashCrispy cased Berkshire Pig Jowls served with Truffle Mash

We were presented two starters for our lunch – Crispy Cased Berkshire Pig Jowls with Truffle mash ($24) and Jamon, Watermelon and Persian Feta ($16). The pig jowls (or cheeks, if you prefer) are slow cooked ’til they’re fall apart tender, then wrapped in a light house-made pastry and deep fried so that this delicate outer layer shatters with every bite. Not content with creating such a decadent mouthful, the rolls are served with an aromatic truffle mash, complete with actual bits of grated truffle through the smooth, rich potato.

Jamon, Watermelon and Persian FetaJamon, Watermelon and Persian Feta, topped with crispy capers.

The second starter consisted of columns of fresh watermelon wrapped in paper thin jamon and topped with Persian feta and deep fried capers. The result was something that transported you to sunshine and summer, and provided a fantastic balance to the luxurious richness of the pig jowls.

Lamb shoulder is slow cooked in a paper bag for 4-5 hours, and served with a side of salsa verdeSlow cooked Murrayland Lamb Shoulder with salsa verde

The shared main came soon after – a slow cooked Murrayland Lamb Shoulder with Salsa Verde ($65). The lamb was flavoured with lots of quality olive oil, and cooked en papillote – wrapped in a package made of baking paper – for 4-5 hours. It was as tender as you’d expect; the waitstaff opened the bag and pulled apart the meat with two spoons right at the table and proceeded to place generous portions onto our waiting plates.

Mixed green salad, radicchio leaves, mustard and chive vinaigrette Mixed green salad, radicchio leaves, mustard and chive vinaigrette

The lamb proved nearly too much richness for one meal when combined with the starter, but thankfully the unassuming fresh salad it was served with saved the day. The mustard and chive vinaigrette provided sweet and savoury notes that complemented the bitterness of the leaves, and offset the heaviness of the lamb.

Brioche, Creme Patissiere, and Grand Marnier Strawberries piled into a stackTarte Cafe Del Mar

And just when we thought we couldn’t eat any more, dessert came to us in the form of Tarte Cafe Del Mar ($15). A brioche bun sliced horizontally and layered with creme patisserie and Grand Marnier strawberries, like a very sophisticated sweet Big Mac. I’m not the biggest fan of orange flavoured things, but the light notes of citrus lifted the strawberries, and added a nice edge to the creamy creme pattiserie. The brioche though, wasn’t my favourite – too much brioche to filling for my personal taste – but I could see where they were going with the dessert. 

In all, it was the epitome of a leisurely lunch. There was no sense of rush – no waiters chasing you off, no one wanting to claim your table – and because they do not close between lunch and dinner, you get to hang out in style, where a leisurely lunch can turn into pre-dinner drinks and then right onto dinner, if you wished. 

Cafe del Mar
Cockle bay Wharf
35 Wheat Road, The Roof Terrace, Sydney
Phone: (02_ 9267 6700
Web: cafedelmar.com.au

Cafe del Mar on Urbanspoon

I Ate My Way Through dined as guests of Cafe Del Mar and Ummm… Communications.