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Monday, February 13, 2012

Circa Espresso, Parramatta

breakfast circa espresso cafe parramatta

There's a lot of buzz about Circa Espresso in Parramatta, and all with good reason. This cute and quirky cafe - which opened early last year - has recently recommenced trade after a six week break for holidays and renovations. Changes include an expanded indoor seating area and relocating the cooking station into a separate, albeit tiny, alcove out the back. The magic, however, is always been about the decor and the space, an unused laneway between two buildings converted into a funky cafe for locals.

circa espresso cafe parramatta
Circa Espresso converted from a former laneway between two buildings

This unmarked cafe could easily be missed but for the swirls of graffiti art on the walls and the huddle of milk crates and stools on the footpath. The decor inside is an eclectic jumble of shabby chic meets urban grittiness creating a mood that is easily reminiscent of Melbourne's laneway cafes.

circa espresso cafe parramatta
Indoor seating

circa espresso cafe parramatta
Coffee service counter

The crowd is young and enthusiastic, with a regular queue of people patiently waiting for takeaway coffees. Seating is mostly for pairs - larger groups will have to battle for the round table at the back or settle on the footpath outside. The new library alcove has a large leather lounge, coffee table and stools but it's probably not the best spot if you're planning on eating a meal.

coffee aeropress piccolo latte circa espresso cafe parramatta
Piccolo latte $3.50; iced coffee $4; and Aeropress coffee $5

Coffee is taken seriously here, robust but smooth, using a house blend of The Little Marionette coffee beans. They'd run out of cold drip single origin ($6), extracted for 6-8 hours using Yama iced filtration, but happily provide an Aeropress coffee using a single origin bean from Mexico. The Aeropress system uses a specific water temperature and gentle air pressure to create a coffee that has less bitterness and lower acidity.

portobello mushroom circa espresso cafe parramatta
Portobello mushrooms, Danish fetta and basil pesto $7
with caramelised onions and baby spinach on sourdough toast

In a city plagued with carbon copy breakfast menus, the offerings at Circa are tantalisingly different and pleasantly affordable. Fat slices of panfried Portobello mushrooms are matched with creamy Danish fetta, peppery rocket leaves and a splodge of caramelised onions on a thick slab of toasted sourdough.

avocado sourdough toast circa espresso cafe parramatta
Avocado on sourdough toast with sea salt, cracked pepper and lemon oil $7

Avocado on sourdough is another vegetarian treat, generously slathered with buttery yellow scoops of ripe avocado drizzled with lemon oil and dusted with freshly cracked pepper. A simpler order of sourdough with Hanks jam, peanut butter, Vegemite or Nutella will set you back four dollars.

potato cakes salmon gravalax circa espresso cafe parramatta
Potato and dill cakes with scrambled egg, salmon gravalax and creme fraiche $14

There's nothing over $10 on the weekday menu, but at weekends you can pick up more substantial dishes that tip over the ten buck mark, like potato and dill cakes topped with curls of salmon gravalax and a fluffy omelette eiderdown.

The potato cakes are a highlight, studded with cubes of tender potato. Like many items on the menu, the salmon gravalax is cured in-house. They also make their own bircher muesli and passionfruit butter, and the muffins and cakes out the front are usually made by one of their staff members.

baked eggs sujuk circa espresso cafe parramatta
Baked eggs with sujuk, Danish feta, tomato and hints of chilli served in the pan $13

My choice today is the baked eggs, two runny eggs supplemented with squidgy cubes of Danish fetta, roughly chopped tomto and seared slices of sujuk, a spicy Turkish sausage. It's served in the frypan it was cooked in, requiring a little bit more space on the table, but ensures that all the delicious juices at the bottom of the pan can be soaked up with the the accompanying slices of toasted sourdough.

Although the food can be a little slow when the cafe is busy, it's easily forgiven in the face of genuinely warm and friendly service. There's a lot of love in this cafe, and it's hard to be grouchy over a slight delay to your food.

circa espresso cafe parramatta
Penny farthings on the wall and a clippings tribute to The Phantom Menace

Tasty cheap food, good coffee and a chillaxed environment in funky environs. Next time I'm ordering the French toast with poached rhubarb, labne and pistachio ($13).

And in the latest exciting news development, they're currently working with Council to open a second venture on the other side of the train station soon.

PS. Yes there is a new header to the blog. Whaddya think?

breads cakes circa espresso cafe parramatta
Breads and desserts

muffins blueberries circa espresso cafe parramatta
Housemade muffins

View Larger Map
Circa on Urbanspoon

Circa Espresso
21 Wentworth Street, Parramatta, Sydney
Tel: +61 (0) 410 757 757 or +61 (0) 414 477 812

Opening hours
Tuesday to Saturday 8am-4pm

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Parramatta - Kambozza (Burmese)
Parramatta - Sahara Restaurant (Turkish)
Parramatta - Sea Sweet (Lebanese sweets)
Parramatta - Temasek (Malaysian)
29 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 2/13/2012 01:44:00 am


  • At 2/13/2012 2:53 am, Anonymous Simon @ the heart of food said…

    Circa is really great value. Wish there were more cafes like it.

    Interesting to see how they've changed the portabello mushroom dish. The one I had was presented totally different.

  • At 2/13/2012 6:36 am, Anonymous Anna @ the shady pine said…

    Nice new header! This place does remind me of the Melbourne laneway cafes from your pictures. Love it!

  • At 2/13/2012 8:23 am, Anonymous Tina @ bitemeshowme said…

    I definitely need to make a trip here. The food looks amazing.

  • At 2/13/2012 9:35 am, Anonymous Tina@foodboozeshoes said…

    Mmm, so much to like. Avo on toast is totally underrated, so good to see it on the menu here.

  • At 2/13/2012 9:54 am, Anonymous gastronomous anonymous said…

    i have heard a lot of things about this place - good things that is! will have to make a trip here soon i think! the food looks fantastic!

  • At 2/13/2012 11:54 am, Anonymous gaby @ lateraleating said…

    Great header, simple & classy. Good to see there's great cafe food in Parramatta, not that I would go all the way there for breakfast, but good to know.

  • At 2/13/2012 12:23 pm, Anonymous shaun@everybodylovesramen said…

    I LOVE this place. Makes me happy I moved to Parra.

    P.S. little known fact: the in-house baker/cook extraordinaire who usually makes all the baked goods out front is none other than Leanne Beck of Sweet Infinity.

    Not to start a rumor tumor but she's a permanent addition :D

  • At 2/13/2012 2:36 pm, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    circa is gold out here in the west! gorgeous coffee and zomg the french toast is to die for! aaaaand nice header!!

  • At 2/13/2012 2:49 pm, Blogger leetranlam said…

    That list of breakfast-worthy items sounds great. Have been hearing lots about this place, so good to hear that it is doing well enough to expand its cafe empire. PS Nice header!

  • At 2/13/2012 4:09 pm, Anonymous Gen said…

    I had wanted to try circa but considering that the staff were so rude I had to walk away, I'm glad you had a good experience! perhaps I should walk up with a dslr and see if the treatment is different.
    I'm partial to the baron in castle hill. I'd recommend you try it at night, they make a drool worthy cheeseburger

  • At 2/13/2012 4:26 pm, Blogger Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said…

    I like the subtle upgrade to the header!

  • At 2/13/2012 6:27 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    These guys Rock! Been going to Circa for over 6 months now, and even though they are getting busier they still manage to pull off great quality coffee and food with a warm welcome! Awesome that you enjoyed your experience! I always do!

  • At 2/13/2012 7:03 pm, Anonymous catty said…

    All I want to say is .. I LOVE BAKED EGGS. LIKE CRAZY. It's good to know of a decent cafe down that way so when we're out yonder west, we wont starve :)

  • At 2/13/2012 7:40 pm, Anonymous T said…

    Gen, staff... rude... ? You have to be kidding me. The two guys at the front are always friendly and the owner is defiantly a have-a-chat. Your comment couldn't be any further from the truth.

    First weekend back the food could have been better, but this weekend it was back to the very high standard all of its customer have been used to. Have not missed a weekend since i found this great lil place!

    Would recommend anyone!

    See you on Saturday Circa.

  • At 2/13/2012 9:56 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Great post.Lovely guys,great service & awesome food. Glad to hear they're opening a second cafe. Been coming here for months now, I remember how quiet it used to be on Saturdays!Now,not so quiet! All worth it though.The photos are wonderful :)

  • At 2/13/2012 10:15 pm, Blogger Karen | Citrus and Candy said…

    Glad that there are places like Circa Espresso and The Baron popping up now because it's so dreadfully suburban and drab out here! Which is why I usually shun the local scene and travel all the way to the city lol. Glad to have finally sampled Circa. Def won't be my last :)

  • At 2/13/2012 11:39 pm, Anonymous Jacq said…

    Food and coffee there were great! Would totes go more often, if only I lived a little closer!

  • At 2/13/2012 11:47 pm, Anonymous pigflyin said…

    wow! such a great place in Paramatta! everything looks great. Love that they have areopress coffee. all the more that we should support business like this.

  • At 2/14/2012 2:40 pm, Anonymous Jam Selion said…

    just because i see these food, i'm starting to starve a lot. These food look so yummy and tasty. I wanna try to eat them!

  • At 2/15/2012 12:19 pm, Anonymous Best car loans Australia said…

    I really liked the food. And I love the location too. Compare to other places I did enjoy their coffee.

  • At 2/15/2012 1:18 pm, Blogger Energetica said…

    Liked the new header, Helen! More in keeping with the evolving scope of the blog - but I miss the "..because life is one long buffet table"! :)

  • At 2/15/2012 3:57 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oh I absolutely love the coffee here! Stumbled on this place by accident whilst in Parramatta for a meeting. Didn't realise they do such delicious looking food too!

  • At 2/15/2012 8:24 pm, Blogger Chloe Martin said…

    Wow! the food looks really good.... My craving is out of control! :D

    order takeaway online

  • At 2/15/2012 9:34 pm, Anonymous Paul @ Tomte Life said…

    Great review - breakfast is my favorite meal of the day!

  • At 2/16/2012 9:06 am, Anonymous Aimee said…

    Been dying to come here for a while now!

  • At 2/19/2012 12:31 pm, Anonymous Min Ai said…

    Thanks to your post I just had to check this place out!! LOVED it and although we didn't have coffees (my friend had a juice) it was less than $20 for us both and such great value for money. I'll definitely be going back there again.. soon! :)

  • At 2/22/2012 11:07 pm, Anonymous Vivian - vxdollface said…

    Wow the food looks real good! Shame I don't go to Parramatta often :( and when I went earlier this yr they were closed for renovations, must make another trip

  • At 3/22/2012 9:48 pm, Blogger Mel said…

    I love EVERYTHING about Circa, the food, the coffee, the staff, the vibe and the fact that it's so close to home. I'd be bereft if they ever shut down.

    And Gen...the staff here are BEYOND friendly, they're flat chat ALL the time, but they are never rude.

  • At 7/05/2012 1:25 pm, Blogger WEST END GURLS said…

    Us West End Gurls love love love circa!!!! Best housemade muffins ever!


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