Bite-sized Summary: A hidden gem within the confines of a tiny space in Sydney’s inner west. The menu starts out with basic cafe items (eggs, toast, muesli), but its the ‘recommended’ page that things really start to get exciting. Featuring a sophisticated duck waffle dish, I can’t help but compare it to the signature dish and namesake of London institution, Duck & Waffle, which I absolutely loved.
On a particularly cold and wet (note: torrential) Sydney day, my mum, sister and I decided to catch up over a girly brunch at this hole-in-the-wall cafe located just off Parramatta Road in Annandale. Inside we found a warm and cosy space, with a capacity of around 15 seats max, thus not offering many table options at all. I was surprised that such a small cafe took reservations so we had to wait a while to be seated whilst two tables sat empty. Later, we found that they offer a high tea option (which looks stunning!), so the booking requirement for these I can understand.
Cheesecake French Toast
Although I can’t comment much on this dish as I was only able to steal a bite from my dessert-for-breakfast loving mum, I certainly thought Cafe Claire’s cheesecake french toast with cream cheese, brûlée banana, seasonal fruit, almonds and maple syrup ($16) looked very pretty on the plate. My mum said this was delicious and creamy with a nice amount of sweetness, however the thick brioche was dry in spots that the cream cheese did not reach. Perhaps a little jug with maple syrup to pour over the top would help this issue.
Having fallen in love with a very similar dish at the aptly named Duck & Waffle; a sophisticated 24/7 restaurant on level 40 of one of London’s tallest buildings, I was very eager to see how Cafe Claire’s version measured up. Featuring roasted duck breast, fried egg and homemade mustard and maple sauce ($22), I couldn’t help but wonder if they had in fact taken inspiration from London’s version, which similarly consists of crispy duck leg confit, fried duck egg and mustard maple syrup…
London’s Duck & Waffle [Image via Londonist] VS. Cafe Claire’s Duck Waffle
Cafe Claire’s roasted duck was perfectly cooked with a lovely pink blush in the center and a mouth-watering, incredibly flavoursome layer of fat underneath the skin. The waffle, which contained crunchy sugar pearls throughout offered a lovely dimension of texture and sweetness, which paired beautifully with the savoury duck and fried egg.
The only downfall for me was the sauce. Served in a shot glass without a spout caused it to just splash out everywhere, which I guess isn’t a huge deal…unless you’re going for a good pour shot :’D The addition of balsamic vinegar to the maple syrup and mustard sauce created a thin, watery consistency, which unfortunately made my waffles very soggy on the bottom, as opposed to the syrup-like consistency of London’s Duck & Waffle. Personally, I would have preferred less of the balsamic, which was also quite an overpowering flavour for me.
Overall, I really enjoyed the duck waffle at Cafe Claire. The duck itself was so tender and delicious and all the flavours were there, albeit some off ratios with the sauce in my opinion. A very different dish to London’s Duck & Waffle, which comes out on top for me but only just! If Cafe Claire’s sauce was more balanced with less balsamic, it may have just been the winner.
Triple Mushroom Sandwich
The food envy was very real when my sister’s meal arrived at the table – triple mushroom sandwich with truffle oil, cheese and fried egg ($16), with the sumptuous aroma of truffle oil making mouths water around the table. The different textures of mushrooms, paired with the perfect amount of cheese, truffle oil and that runny yolk over the top was incredible! Simple, delicious food that’s good for the soul.
I’m not a coffee drinker so I love seeing alternative options on the menu like this matcha green tea latte ($4.5). Served with marble coasters and brushed gold spoons, this drink was a little slice of luxury on a rainy day. I think this could have used a little extra sugar to balance out the earthy, bitter flavour of matcha, however, I did appreciate the matcha intensity as opposed to a glass of barely green frothy milk.
A lovely little cafe in Sydney’s inner west, serving up some unique dishes amongst the usual cafe fare. I loved the mushroom sandwich and the duck waffle, which were both delicious and very flavourful. My only suggestion with the duck waffle would be to gradually add the sauce (veeery carefully) to avoid a soggy waffle and any overpowering flavours from too much balsamic. The mushroom truffle sandwich is a must-order in my opinion, just make sure you call ahead of time to make a booking!
This post is based on an independently paid visit to Cafe Claire.
3/2 Young St, Annandale NSW 2038
0497 459 174