Conceived on a beach in Spain, Barista and Cook is former international DJ Alan Thompson’s second foray into Sydney’s café scene. After selling the popular Surry Hills hot spot, Bang Bang Café, back in May 2015, Alan took some much-needed time to refresh and reset. What emerged from this period of self-renewal is a next generation café.
It’s light and airy, with Scandinavian inspired décor, and leafy green hanging ferns drawing your eye upwards. The excellent sound system kicks out Thompson’s carefully crafted chilled beat selections at precisely the right volume – creating atmosphere without making anyone shout.
Thompson explains Green Square is set to become “the most densely populated suburb in all of Australia.” Meaning locals will likely view this high-ceilinged cafe as extended living space, and frequent the outdoor tables with their canine companions. Visitors to the area should also find the location, on the Bourke Street edge of these new housing developments, quite easy to access.
Sinking into over-stuffed cushions in a booth overhung with staghorn ferns manages to feel intimate, despite the large space. Cradled by the comfortingly fluffy cushion, I tuck into a bowl of Steel Cut Oats ($14.50), balanced by tart coconut yoghurt and a pretty fan of spiced quince.
Gypsy Espresso coffee scrubs up very smoothly in their likeable 12-hour infused Cold Drip ($6). Beet It ($8.50) will scratch your freshly squeezed juice itch with a pleasant combination of pineapple, beetroot and apple. However if you’re in the mood for something decadent, the Mango & Passionfruit Splice ($9) takes honey, vanilla ice cream and coconut water and turns them into a thick, icy treat.
The tight but sufficiently interesting breakfast menu offers up both naughty and nice dishes, so you can order according to where you are at with any clean eating aspirations. Cheat days will be much improved by the generously proportioned Grilled Mac’n’Cheese Toastie ($12.50), elevated by the use of quality Cheddar. The tiny pot of house relish should assist when you hit peak cheese saturation.
On the nicer side of the menu is the Smoked Trout Kedgeree ($19.50); it’s also the only real nod on the menu to Thompson’s British heritage. If you’re still scratching your head, it’s a combination of smoky fish, hardboiled eggs and gently spiced rice, created during the time of the British Raj. Thompson explains he's given it “a bit a modern Australian twist” with puffed black rice, house-smoked trout and citrus yoghurt set off by the gently Indian flavours.
The menu's showstopper is the perfectly Char Grilled Pork Belly ($19) slab, tucked under two fried eggs and a healthy mound of green peas, crushed edamame and puffed black rice. It’s the perfect combination of naughty and nice, and bound to draw me back again.
Barista and Cook
834 Bourke Street, Waterloo
Ph: (02) 8399 1234