“If I'm really honest, this has exceeded my expectations,” says Alan Thompson, Barista and Cook’s owner. The former DJ is back in the industry, having sold Surry Hills cafe Bang Bang early last year.
Barista and Cook is on-trend without blindly copying what others are doing. The menu is seasonable, accessible and interesting, with almost everything done on-site, and the fit-out is Scando-industrial. It’s blocky, with a lot of glass, immensely high ceilings and generous natural light. Thompson and his design team (Giant Design) have cleverly split the square to fit in a long communal table, a beach-bar-like lounge and some outdoor cafe tables.
It doesn’t revolutionise cafe cuisine in Sydney, but it’s certainly not standard cafe food, either. Thompson is working with ex-Excelsior Jones chef Adrian Borg on a menu that, although recognisable, has a few unique dishes.
Barista and Cook’s standout menu item may be its smoked-trout kedgeree – the British-Indian dish traditionally made with haddock, rice, eggs and spices. “It’s a very traditional English breakfast dish that probably doesn’t have too much favour these days,” Thompson says. “But I wanted to resurrect it as a bit of my heritage.” There’s a mac’n’cheese toasty made with single-origin sourdough; fried-chicken rolls; a breakfast chargrilled pork belly with chilli fried eggs; and a coffee slider with custom-made Gypsy Espresso coffee gelato by Ciccone and Sons. “We like to call the menu naughty but nice,” says Thompson. Obviously the above represents the naughty side. The alternatives are almond-milk Bircher; coconut-chia pudding and a quartet of fresh salads.
Barista & Cook
834 Bourke Street, Waterloo
(02) 8399 1234
Mon to Fri 7am–4pm
Sat & Sun 8am–3pm