It was clear that Alan Thompson’s new venture, Barista & Cook, would be special. But I didn’t know just how good it would be until last Sunday when I finally tried it for the first time.
Alan’s Bangbang cafe in Surry Hills was simply, a great experience (it’s been taken over and is not doing too badly in its new incarnation). It was always a great place for a cafe, but after a tasty place called Plissé, it had a year or two as a terrible cafe, before Alan took it over. As a former DJ, he had a huge set of headphones painted on one wall, there were super cool light fixtures, even the colour of the paint was cool. The style and detail was also applied to the menu, a fun and engaging British influenced menu, with particularly excellent breakfasts (though I often would fall prey to the white chocolate caramel slices).
Barista & Cook is huge and airy, and super-stylish. The young, shiny staff with very stylish aprons and leather straps, were friendly and efficient. Alan was presiding over the floor, and I know he’s got high standards, and is making the place run beautifully.
The food though? What of the food? One of our party, from Perth, was very impressed with her pork belly and eggs and beans. A beautiful dish. My better half had a mac n cheese toastie, which is a pretty good concept, if you ask me.
But let me wax lyrical about the grilled mushroom on toast, just as an example of how good I think this place is. This is a pretty typical dish for an Aussie cafe, and I’ve had some terrible versions of it: a big old grilled mushroom on a dry piece of toast. But this had some sort of mushroom mixture on top of the toast, rich and savoury, like a nice pate, and then grilled wild mushrooms on top of that, plus some delicious salady bits. And then here’s the thing: some soft burrata cheese (one of my favourite good groups) and some bits of enoki mushrooms (the tiny stringy ones) that have been deep-fried so they taste a bit like fried onions.
I thought the whole thing was masterful and can’t wait to try the rest of the menu.
I also got to try a golden latte (turmeric, ginger) that has hit the international press, as of late. I really wanted to like it, I did, and the first mouthful, I kind of liked. It’s got a great colour, and started with a complex combo of flavours, but I have to admit that it tasted just too medicinal in the end.
Ah well. Not to my taste, but Barista & Cook certainly is. My only complaint is that it’s not five minutes from my apartment like Bang Bang!