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Casa Esquina

Courtyard cocktails and exceptional grilled cuts are the star of the show at Balmain's sophisticated but lively Argentinian-inspired restaurant.
By Suz Tucker
February 26, 2024
By Suz Tucker
February 26, 2024

Casa Esquina is simply one of the best al fresco dining experiences that Balmain and the surrounding peninsula suburbs currently have on offer. The restaurant sprawls across multiple levels in the former Efendy site which has been completely reimagined with the beautiful front courtyard and its two camphor laurel trees as the showpiece of the street front.

If you have the means to 'lunch', this is a pretty bloody good setting for it.

Casa Esquina arrived in Balmain courtesy of the team behind two of Sydney's best Mexican restaurants — Tequila Mockingbird and Esteban — but this time the team turned their attention further south to Argentina as the inspiration for the food, wine and approach to hospitality.

The hanger steak with chimichurri

The menu from Head Chef Will Quartel is intended for sharing (although it definitely doesn't have to be) and the kitchen's huge open-flame Parrilla grill is the star of the show. As you'd expect from any Argentinian-inspired menu, beef is one of the lineup's heroes. The Tajima wagyu hanger steak is juicy, perfectly charred and is delicious with or without the accompanying chimichurri.

You could go for the 1kg Angus 5+ribeye or an entire suckling pig (which you need to have ordered ahead of time) if you're dining with a group and really want to get the kitchen flexing with that Parrilla. But non-carnivores are catered for, with blackened mahi mahi or a whole grilled fish also coming off the grill in the main section of the menu and plenty of options in the sizeable 'entrada' section.

Speaking of the starters, begin with Quartel's take on the classic vitello tonnato done with wagyu beef tongue pastrami instead of the traditional veal. Then get a selection of the empanadas (the kangaroo and maraschino cherry is far more approachable than it might read), the delicate raw kingfish served with a red piquillo pepper dressing, and the insanely good pork chicharrón.

The drinks program comprises a generous selection of great cocktails (highly recommended are the 'I've Gochu Now!' and the 'In a Pickle'), as well as a strong wine list heavily featuring South American producers alongside ample Australian and New Zealand entries.

The 'In a Pickle' cocktail at Casa Esquina

The food and drinks are being done at a high level but what's going to bring you back to Casa Esquina is vibe. A genuinely delightful service team and the indoor-meets-outdoor architecture creates an atmosphere that is infectiously lively and fun. A cracking spot for a long group lunch or a buzzy weeknight date.

Image credit: Steven Woodburn

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