Part of owners Paul Allam and David Mcguinness’s plans from the beginning, the Bourke Street Bakery ‘After Hours’ concept is designed to complement the location’s daytime dealings. Locals will continue to sip lattés and devour pastries amid the tree-dappled light of Crick Avenue by day, before the buzzing cafe is transformed into a moody, low lit, almost Parisienne bistro as evening arrives.
They’ve borrowed head chef Sam Bennett from their other business around the corner – slow-cooked meat Mecca, Wilbur’s Place – to devise the menu and run the kitchen and he seems to be relishing the added freedom afforded by the After Hours concept.
The playful menu melds seasonal ingredients with a determinedly European approach to eating; little bites of antipasti range from smoked eel brandade with radish and roast turnip (served in adorable, locally handmade ceramics) to manchego and pickle-stuffed gherkins wrapped in broodingly dark slices of bresaola.
Shared platters of charcuterie and smart salads sit aside assorted pintxos-style crostini, their signature bread topped with a selection of simple, seasonal flavours. Perhaps broad beans, crushed peas and grated Pecorino might form a topping, or goose liver parfait with buttered mushrooms, parsley sauce and a perfectly soft-cooked quail’s egg.
Raw fish and warm raclette cheese both make an enticing appearance, as do more substantial options, ranging from salt-baked snapper to slow-roasted veal shin, served whole for a larger group or shredded over a fresh salad of shaved fennel, radish and grapes. A smart Australian wine list is joined by an astute selection of aperitifs, perfect for a pre-dinner tipple.
The inviting space seems almost tailor-made for the After Hours idea (dark and below street level). The brass and timber adorning the room lend themselves to the evening, dressed up with striking floral arrangements, while pickled chillies and artichokes wrestle for space with wine bottles along the tops of the mirror-lined walls.
It’s a simple concept done well, so is a welcome extension of this otherwise daytime bakery.
Bourke Street Bakery After Hours is available at the Potts Point cafe (enter via Crick Avenue) from Tuesday to Saturday 6pm–10pm.