Balmoral Beach, Mosman
This is the most stunning setting for a cafe. It’s beautifully decorated inside and set right on the water. Literally. You’re in a boatshed and the water is visible in gaps between the planks on the floor. It’s a bit pricey, but if I lived in Balmoral, I probably wouldn’t be worrying about a couple of extra dollars for brekky. Or caring that it costs $8 an hour for parking. I did notice I wasn’t the only tourist, when I spotted quite a few people sharing one meal between two, when they noticed the price.
Enough about the price, more about the chai. But just before- a heads up this is another $5 per cup plus $3 bridge toll and $8 for parking. Just saying…that’s $16 for the experience.
The baristas here were a bit standoffish to begin, but then became super friendly and helpful when I mentioned I was blogging about chai. You need to order a chai tea- the chai latte is made as a powder. The secret to their unique tasting chai tea- they buy their chai leaf mix from a coffee roaster, make it concentrated in a pot with a hit of boiling water and add some fresh ginger just before they heat the soy milk and add it to the mix.
It was nice, but a bit heavy on the ginger. Maybe more honey would balance this out, or perhaps I could ask for less ginger next time. Either way, I’ll go back. Because if I live in Sydney, then I should make use of such a unbelievably beautiful setting for a cafe.
Verdict: A bit like a schoolies week- snog, snog, snog.
Darling st, Rozelle
Is $5 too much for a chai? Yes.
Is 10 minutes too long to wait before they even begin making the chai? Yes.
Is this the second best chai in Sydney so far? Yes.
Will I be going back again?
Store Espresso Leichhardt
Marion St, Leichhardt
I was very disappointed in this morning’s chai. My brother in law- an avid coffee drinker took a chance and had a sip of my chai this morning. I don’t know if he believed me that a chai doesn’t normally taste like plain soy milk, but when he shuddered, I felt like I’d let the team down. Here’s why.
I ordered a chai tea and it came like most chai lattes, made with leaves and served in a pot with frothy soy milk. The chai itself was very weak (a bit like Gwyneth Paltrow singing) and pretty with hardly a trace of any spice or tea flavour at all. There were a few problems with the service that made it feel like a three course meal. First came the cup and saucer, then the chai and finally some honey. The teaspoon never eventuated.
I hope to update with a less lacklustre review next time. But for the moment I’ll avoid.
Hint: Order it as chai tea-their chai latte is made with powder.
Glebe Point Rd, Glebe
I’m about to make a huge call……I think this is the best chai in Sydney. It’s spicy, it’s nutty, served hot, with a hint of honey to balance the spice. In fact, this is the best chai I’ve ever tasted. Ever. You need to go try it. Now.
As well as serving amazing chai, Badde Manors make a whole lot of other hot drinks and also serve vegan and vegetarian food. It’s a charmingly pokey kind of place on a Glebe corner and it’s been around for decades. I first went there about 15 years ago (cue wind chimes….)
It was 1998 and I had just got my driver’s licence. I was still living at home with my parents on the upper north shore and hadn’t yet made the big move to the lower north shore. I had however, recently discovered the Harbour Bridge. And you could drive it to a little corner of the world known as the Inner West. I dipped my toe in at the shallow end and found myself in Glebe. With my brother. Whom I love.
Anyway, we were walking down Glebe Point Rd in doc martens and 501s. Badde Manors appeared around the corner, so we pretended to be grown up and went inside, even though neither of us drank coffee. There was a huge selection of hot drinks to choose from, so I ordered a hot apple cider, which was ok but it paled in comparison to Joel’s drink.
Now I’ve talked people into doing things before, but this time, I outdid myself. Joel was going to order a plain old hot chocolate. Bo-ring! Why not take a risk, I asked. Live on the edge, i jeered. Try something new, I pleaded. Once I set down the challenge, Joel really rose to the occasion. However, once his hot soy carob arrived, he took one sip and spat it out. Hot soy carob? What was he thinking?
Verdict: The best chai in Sydney
Booth St Bistro
127 Booth st, Annandale
You know that song On the Sunny Side of the Street? Well, this place is on the shady side of the street. It’s cold from the shadows and also from the staff. The chai is served in a bag. There’s not much else worth saying.
Hang on wait. I just read this post to Sam and he corrected me. ”I thought you said you liked this chai, even though it was served from a bag.”
Oops. Ok I”ll clarify.
I still think the service is bad and it’s always cold there, but the chai passes, if you want a tea.
Snog. If you want.
4-8 Booth St, Annandale
I love this place. The food is amazing. There is a lovely, very sunny courtyard out the front. Waiters are ridiculously friendly and very helpful. Unfortunately, it’s about a metre from the road and adjacent to the SupaBarn carpark. But as much as that sounds the worst place for a chai, it’s actually very appealing.
But I sat there very contentedly today, with my warm chai, on a sunny winter’s day. Perfect.
Well, almost. The actual chai was pretty average. But it was served in a lovely, delicate, mismatching porcelain cup and saucer. The menu is delicious. Really delicious. The cakes look amazing! The cafe is in a converted house, with big windows looking out to a green reserve. Did I mention the food? So tasty.
So I should mention the chai. Look, it was pretty inoffensive. It was really more just warmed up milk. But at least it was warmed up BonSoy milk. Credit where credit’s due. Anyway, I think the sunny setting, friendly staff, delicious food and warmth of the place make up for it.
Snog. You’ll love everything else about it!
43 Booth st Annandale
Chai first, story later.
Hit: If the guy with the piercings is making the chai you are onto a winner. He makes a chai with the perfect blend of sweetness and spice. At the risk of sounding like a pretentious wine reviewer, this chai starts with a spicy kick, which quickly morphs into a creamy and subtly sweet residual flavour.
Miss: Unfortunately I can’t guarantee the work of any of the other baristas. Today, one of the girls made my chai and I can’t say much positive about it. The tea pot was large and served at least three cups, which normally is great. But when the chai is as average as this, it wasn’t much of a bonus. It was served lukewarm, which meant we had to speed through it. It was very watery and weak. I was hoping that by the third cup it would have become stronger, but someone once mentioned the leaves infuse in hot water, not milk. So, that could explain it. Overwhelmingly underwhelming.
I do really want to support this café. The last owner apparently did a runner and his Number One Waiter took over the lease and running. The artwork is still on display and the setup is pretty much the same. The menu has reduced in size, and so have the portions. But I always thought they were too big anyway. Make sure you check out the freshly baked treats.
(Hint: Specify that it’s made with leaves, as they also serve powdered chai.)
Verdict: Hit and miss- but the hit is worth a few misses.