It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything for a very simple reason – I’ve been enjoying the easy life down in Sydney and hanging out with my cousins and foodie friends. Of course, that left little time for writing so my apologies to all of you waiting on the next review! Let’s see if we can’t do something about that though…
First, let me give you a brief run down of the trip. We hung out just south of the central district in an area called Waterloo. It boasts a range of excellent brunch places (most notably Bourke St Bakery) plus benefits from a direct bus line into town. There is also the massive Centennial Park just to the east which provided a great spot to go for a morning run in an effort to at least pretend we weren’t just going to get fat on this trip.
Thanks to some excellent friends I met when they were on their working holiday stint in London, we also got a tour of some of the best bars in the city as well as an impromptu crawl around Bondi. Then, of course, I can’t miss out the epic Viet food crawl in Cabramatta but that’s likely to be a post all by itself.
Anyways, enough of that. Let’s get onto the food!
Food: ★★★☆☆ Service: ★★★★☆ Atmosphere: ★★★☆☆ Value: ★★★☆☆ Overall: ★★★☆☆
Our first brunch stop was Cowbell 808, a quirky café with décor that would look just fine in the early 1950s. I’m talking vinyl topped tables and plastic cushioned chairs. But while the look is vintage, the food is anything but. I started off with an affogato which is normally a good shot of espresso enriched by a small scoop of ice cream. However, I quickly learned that in Oz the opposite was true – it’s really an excuse to eat ice cream while calling it a coffee!
My affogato was the smallest I’d have on this trip, but the hefty scoop of salted caramel goodness was packed with flavor and paired nicely with the bitterness of the coffee. It also helped cool me down a bit as this Brit wasn’t quite used to the Oz heat just yet. For the mains, I opted for the Cowbell burger – I do love a good burger – which turned out to be a bit of a hit or miss. To be far, everything but the patty was excellent with the bun (baked on site) being a particular standout. It would pass a certain burger blogger’s tear test with flying colors and tasted good enough to eat on its own. The patty was cooked well with a good line of pink in the middle but lacked sufficient seasoning to bring out any meaty taste. In fact, the clean circular shape makes me wonder if they didn’t just toss a frozen patty out of the pack despite the claim of it being home-made.
My gf’s chorizo and eggs with Turkish flatbread was huge and had the bold flavors to go with the portion size. I happily polished off what she couldn’t finish – she blames the milkshake but that was too thin to really take up any space!
Price wise, our bill came in around $50/£30 for the two of us including two mains and two drinks. Quite reasonable although I’d probably give the burger a miss and go for something more breakfasty next time.
Bourke St Bakery
Food: ★★★★☆ Service: ★★★★☆ Atmosphere: ★★☆☆☆ Value: ★★★★☆ Overall: ★★★★☆
Thanks to Yelp Sydney, we identified a new spot for our next brunch which had the added benefit of being on the tail end of our run route. Bourke St. Bakery (BSB) is a small shop with only a few seats inside but luckily they’ve set out a number of tables on the wide pavement outside. Not only do you get the benefit of being outdoors, but you can also turn up a bit sweaty for a jog and not feel that guilty.
The food here was excellent – so good in fact that we came back the next day to try so more items. All in all, we managed to munch on a lamb & harissa sausage roll, the signature pork & fennel sausage roll, a bacon and gruyere quiche, a pork and pancetta toastie, and a ginger crème brulee. The lamb trumped the pork in the battle of the rolls for me as the slight spiciness of the harissa really brought out the depth of the flavor in the lamb. Both rolls had excellent flaky pastry and were served freshly baked and piping hot. The quiche and the toastie were good combinations of creamy cheese dotted with potent bits of salted meat – a perfect match if there ever was one. I think the quiche edged out the sandwich due to the smoothness of the filling which melted on the tongue. And finally the ginger crème brulee was heaven in a tart with the sweet and spicy mix exciting the tongue yet not disrupting the silky texture that all crème brulees wish for.
A minor note, the outdoor seating is on a slope which can be slightly disconcerting. But you quickly get used to it and the inconvenience is more than offset by the low prices and till-to-table service offered by this place. Keep in mind that the lines get pretty long on the weekends so get there early! But at 10am on a weekday? You can just sail on through.