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With so many cafes and restaurants on offer on Darling Street, Balmain, it’s easy to miss a good one – especially when you find a cafe or two that you can’t seem to go past on account of their high standards of food and service. Ciao Thyme has been one such cafe for me, just that little bit further from the main cluster of shops and restaurants so handy to my own front door. Yet this weekend I was rewarded by my efforts to go the extra (half) mile and have found another brunch hot spot to add to my treasury of favourites.

A small but airy and inviting corner cafe, Ciao Thyme has an italian inspired selection of deli foods including quiches, sandwiches, pastries and salads as well as a blackboard list of breakfast menu items cooked to order with most of the usual suspects on offer. It’s quiet when we go but clear that it’s a well run and efficient business with attentive staff and fresh food well done, without pretence.

Although I could easily have chosen any of the deli items presented with today, I settled on the smoked trout, rocket and eggplant quiche, beautifully made, with a flaky buttery pastry that didn’t buckle under its filling. To accompany said quiche, I chose a sweet potato salad with chickpea, feta, olives and parsley, which delivered a satisfying combination of flavours and textures, and inspired me to become a little more adventurous with my own salads. My sister’s toasted chorizo focaccia might have provoked some envious sidelong glances had I not been so distracted by the deliciousness of my own lunch. All such feelings were avoided at the dessert stage as we made an amicable decision to share a raspberry and almond slice with coffee that, both agreed, was the best we’ve tried in Balmain to date.

Ciao Thyme is everything you want your local cafe to be – casual but distinctive in character, with a regular rotation of seasonal dishes (which I know because I walk past here most days of the week) and high quality produce. Now to make up for the many months it’s taken me to discover it!

Ciao Thyme, 212 Darling Street, Balmain, NSW 2041 (02) 9555 5455