Bay Vista Dessert Bar & Cafe looks like something plucked straight out of Las Vegas. The expansive, two-level dessert bar is set at the base of Altitude, Parramatta’s tallest riverfront residential tower.
At this massive - 700 square metre, 300-seater - operation, guests are encouraged to eat dessert first as a means of coping with life’s little uncertainties.
As you make your way around the space, arranged like a food court with different dessert stations positioned around a diverse seating area, you’ll see more of their philosophy outlined in gleaming gold leaf lettering.
“I want to have a good body but not as much as a I want to have dessert,” is written onto a concrete pillar next to a giant replica of the modern Grecian mural from their original Brighton-Le-Sands cafe. Started by Bill Mougios in 1991, the café made a name for itself as a late night ice cream destination.
Mougios, who owns this new venue with his son, Peter, and George Katsabaris, is clearly hoping to capitalise upon the expected population boom in Parramatta, by taking on a venue that’s three times the size of his original.
Mougios has staffed it with a veritable battalion of young women, each wearing denim and a red and white plaid shirt with a matching rockabilly headband.
They are quick to seat me at a table with a tome-like illustrated menu book, which perhaps would have been more impressive if it had looked a little less tatty.
Not being all that big on eating desserts, I popped in for brunch, which is a reasonably recent addition to their menu. Running from 8am-11am every Saturday and Sunday, it gives you a chance to eat some savoury stuff alongside all the sweets.
To my eye, brunch seems pitched at men, dutifully accommodating their partners’ love of pancakes, offering up dishes like the ‘BV DOG’ Breakfast ($13.90). This hot dog stuffs all your breakfast needs – bacon, grilled mushrooms, fresh tomato, smashed avocado – around a good quality frankfurter, then smothers the lot with oozing, melted cheese. It’s presented in a basket on a soft hot dog bun, surrounded by potato crisps.
What I liked about it was the popping bite from the all-natural frankfurter, which contained no gristle or fillers. What I was less keen on was heated avocado (it should have been applied after the melted cheese) and eating chips for breakfast. Where I should give some credit to Bay Vista is that they definitely came up with some menu items I hadn’t actually eaten before. This is no mean feat when you consider I've written more than 2700 restaurant reviews across the last thirteen years.
Just like the brekky hot dog, the Cheese ‘Waffle’ Melt ($12.90) was new to me. It takes a thick, savoury waffle and tops it with bacon and more gooey melted cheese, then dusts it in mild paprika that's has more colour than flavour.
The cheesy, doughy, creamy waffle is more hectic than it looks, so we ask for chilli - they only have flakes or sweet chilli sauce. Our requested chilli flakes improve the dish tenfold, with their lively heat balanced by the quenelle of sour cream. I apply them very liberally to cut through the intensity.
By now the relentless pumping soundtrack is starting to make me feel a bit manic. It clearly suits the gym bunnies visiting on cheat day, and people on a massive sugar high, which is pretty much everyone else in here. If you can’t beat them, join them I thought, and ordered another unique brunch menu item – the Fruit Toasted Sandwich ($13.50).
Basically it sandwiches slices of the best banana I’ve eaten in months between two slices of thick raisin toast, gluing them together with sweet strawberry jam on one side and smooth peanut butter on the other. The resulting breakfast sandwich is smothered in white chocolate sauce and dusted with crumble. Lesson I learned from eating this dish: fruit toast doesn’t really work for me, unless it’s smothered in melted butter. Good to know.
Best thing I put in my mouth at Bay Vista was their Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich ($14.90). Presented on another soft bun against crisps, this new menu addition won me over with perfect bite-through on the generously applied steak, savoury onion gravy, juicy, red capsicum and judiciously applied melted cheese.
With three constantly flowing chocolate fountains, hot chocolate is obviously a big ticket item in the beverage department.
I prefer my caffeine delivered in a coffee, and the Strong Flat White ($4.20) here had well balanced bitterness. Bay Vista use their own blend of coffee beans, which are roasted by Coffee & Co. Roasters. It performed slightly less well in a Freddo Cappuccino ($8.50) where the chilled espresso got a bit lost amongst all the chilled, foamed milk. Throw in a branded BV Bottled Chilled Water ($2/600ml) – with food this hectic, you’re likely to need it.
Bay Vista Dessert Bar & Cafe
Shop 1, Altitude Building
330 Church Street, Parramatta
Ph: (02) 9056 2775