With Sydney suburbs rapidly growing upwards, and space often being at a premium, innovative uses of the gaps between things will become more commonplace. Over in Bankstown, Glaçage shows the way forward.
This café is tucked between two apartment blocks at the quieter end of Chapel Street. Without street frontage, Glaçage can be tricky to locate, unless you happen to know that it shares a kitchen with The House of Thai. Entrepreneurial businessman, Belal Hamdan owns both businesses; with The House of Thai sitting in a glass-fronted box at the front of the apartment block, and Glaçage accessed by walking down a fairly nondescript side passage.
The café itself belies the boring entranceway with a vibrant living green wall and eye-catching tiles featuring the geometric patterns common to Islamic art. Concrete lampshades, sawn-off glass bottle shades; stone floor tiles, and mosaic tables complete the café’s texturally rich look.
Exposed wooden rafters help to keep your attention within the box rather than on the functional architecture outside of it. The overall effect is European rather than hipster. Glaçage is in fact a French word, meaning icing, though here rather than being about cakes, it seems to point to the glazed glass windows bent on capturing every beam of natural light descending into this canyon between buildings.
Driving out here from the CBD in time for breakfast, we’re gagging for coffee. We give the beans by St. Ali’s Coffee Roasters a whirl in a strong Flat White ($3.80), where it doesn’t quite deliver the bang I was hoping for. The coffee's butter and chocolate notes seem to drink better in my unsweetened Latte ($3.50).
With kale, spinach, mint, cucumber, avocado, pear, pineapple and lemon, Daily Green ($8.90), gives you all your daily requirements in one, slightly pricy, jam jar. It’s pleasant but not quite as enjoyable as a thematic Lemon and Mint Frappe ($7.90). I say thematic because on the menu here, you’ll find Lebanese inspired dishes, along with some French and Turkish elements.
What you won’t find is bacon, or any form of pig. Though with intensely smoky beef rashers and sujuk (dry spicy sausage) both available as four buck sides, who could complain?
Our dishes emerge from a kitchen cleaved into two separate halves - one Thai, one for this intriguing multicult. menu - with a communal wash up bay and cold room. Baked Egg with Chickpeas ($16.90) arrives with a fully set egg ringed by red sujuk pieces. They’re sitting on a bed of grilled eggplant, spicy chickpeas and tomato that eats like a baked dip on the accompanying slices of toast. While the egg would have been better with a runny yolk, the flavours of this dish were new and exciting to me.
The more eye-catching Mushroom Toast with Crispy Poached Eggs ($18.50) has no shortage of runny yolk tumbling over a standout mushrooms on toast. Steamed asparagus spears and truffle mayo. help to make this dish a really satisfying vegetarian breakfast.
I leave well sated, grateful to Australian Good Food Guide for arranging my visit; without them this hidden pocket of Bankstown may well have escaped my notice.
The Courtyard, 465-469 Chapel Road, Bankstown
Ph: (02) 8764 4966