Sitting on a sun-drenched wooden bench, with a bowl of soft egg and peas and a froth-topped Harbourside draught coffee, nothing could feel more like summer. It’s hard to imagine Bondi Road’s Bennet Street Dairy in any other season. The new cafe has only been open two weeks, but people are already filing in and out as if it’s been there for years.
That can be attributed to two things: a surprising lack of new cafe openings on the ‘burb side of Bondi, and how well designed the tiny cafe is. It’s wooden and minimal, like a boat shed, but with a glass façade and a coffee bar by the entrance. “I didn't want a place that's cluttered with fake coffee things and a bicycle hanging from the ceiling. That’s all well and good, but we wanted something different,” says first-time cafe owner and designer, James Meek. He’s joined in the business by chef Cliff Baskin.
When referring to the food, Meek and Baskin keep using the words “fresh and simple”. “We don't want pre-made sandwiches that sit in the window. Cafes that do well now have restaurant-quality food but in an informal environment,” says Meek. He points to the table next to us and recommends exactly what’s being eaten, a messy tower of crisp polenta cubes with mushrooms, roast tomato, a poached egg and smoked salmon, and a breakfast bowl with a flavoursome mix of curly kale, peas, roast almonds, sprouts, a seed-dusted poached egg and quinoa.
Baskin boasts most about the schnitzel burger, named Hilda’s Crumbed Chicken after his grandma. “She used to make it every Friday night for me. She showed me how to do it.” It’s layered with smoked cheddar, roast tomato and a sweet house relish and put in a Lux brioche bun. It’s juicy enough to drip down your hands. Although there’s no specials board up this week, Baskin says he’ll make a range of seasonal dishes once he’s better settled in.
Meek and Baskin have invested a lot in their coffee offering, confirmed by their purchase of what the industry calls the Black Eagle, a state-of-the-art espresso machine with sophisticated temperature, weight and pressure controls.
Bennet Street Dairy
73 Bondi Road
(02) 8387 2149
Mon to Sun 7am–4pm