Balthazar Cafe

Balthazar Cafe

date of visit: Thursday 4 July 2013

We first ducked in to Balthazar Café quite soon after it opened and while we’ve been there a few times it has only been for a restorative coffee and cake after a shopping trip.

The food has always looked pretty good and we have meant to time a shopping trip so we could do an early dinner, but somehow we’ve never quite managed it. We’re either there a touch early or we’ve just bought something highly perishable for dinner.

However, a couple of weeks ago, the planets aligned and we were finally able to try out the food. We were so early we certainly didn’t have to worry about finding a table and soon we were all settled in, with the toddler happily demolishing a babycino and us tucking into the complementary (and very good) bread.

Andy chose one of his pub favourites – no, not a schnitzel with gravy, but the seafood platter: salt and pepper prawns, petite whiting (what on earth is that?) and chargrilled calamari, served with salad, chips and tartare sauce. At $22 this is not only cheaper than many pub seafood platters but Andy announced that it was significantly better. It was a generous plate of food – even if he did have to share his chips with the toddler.

Balthazar Cafe

Because I figured the toddler would be very interested in Andy’s plate of food, I ordered the penne al gamberi: penne with prawns, crab meat in a chilli, tomato and cream sauce. This was a very generous plate of food and the prawns were big, fat and juicy and not stinted on. The sauce had plenty of flavour and the chilli was obviously there without being overpowering. I did think that the pasta was a touch overcooked (do bear in mind that I prefer my pasta very al dente) and I thought there was a bit too much sauce. This was a shame because the crab meat was in the rich sauce and unless you like scooping up sauce just by itself you’ll miss out on some of the crab. I’d put these down as very minor criticisms.

The service was, as previously, excellent. The staff are efficient while being friendly and the café is very family friendly.

I’m pleased we tried the food because for a family meal while out doing the shopping, it definitely hit the spot.

I still haven’t tried a siphon coffee so I guess we’ll just have to head back in future …

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Cafe Balthazar


date of visit: Saturday 30 June 2012

So, I used to have a cat called Balthazar – I was naming cats after sizes of Champagne bottle (prententious? not at all – the current cats are named after physicists …). And when I spotted the newly opened Café Balthazar on Fiveash Drive I wanted to visit purely on that basis alone. Despite the massive renovations of the complex (now called Pasadena Green), Café Balthazar, which is very black, silver and sparkly, is easily visible from the road.

We used a trip to do a weekly shop as an excuse to check out the café. After a particularly unpleasant half hour or so in the supermarket, I was more than eager to have a sit down and a coffee and cake.

As I was dropping the shopping in the car, Andy was in charge of my coffee and cake ordering. This meant I had a coconut macaroon tart (yum!) and a cafe latte, which is my standard coffee ordering. However, Café Balthazar offers the discerning coffee drinker quite a choice, including filter coffee (yawn) and siphon coffee. I was pretty ticked off that I missed out on the siphon coffee because, as far as I know, I’ve never had it before. That – and the kit for producing it looks pretty cool.  I guess that’s an excuse for another visit …

The cafe latte was good – no reservations at all about it. I see that the coffee also gets the thumbs up over at Coffee Snobs. The coconut macaroon tart (which, judging by the broad selection of cakes, is probably bought in rather than made in house) was good too although I thought that the pastry was a little bit thick. Andy’s coffee éclair looked really tasty and must have been because I didn’t get to try any.

The baby’s high chair matched the décor (black and much more stylish than he’s used to!), and both the babycino and my tart got the seal of approval. The café seems very family friendly – there were plenty of other babies and children around (but, thankfully, NOT running amok).

In a wise move, the café also has an ice cream counter which opens directly into the supermarket entrance. I can imagine that in summer they’ll be doing a roaring business there!

Café Balthazar also does proper lunches and the food I spotted on other tables looked like good, solid servings.

The people of Pasadena should be thrilled to have this café on their doorstep. I always get the impression there’s not too much in Pasadena (I’m happy to be corrected) and the busy, happy vibe of Café Balthazar can only be a plus.

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