Barista & Cook
Disclaimer: TGWATW were invited to sample the Breakfast and Lunch menu at Barista & Cook by Wasamedia PR but all our opinions are purely our own.
Overview: Barista and Cook is a bit out of the way for me but I enjoyed the ambience, service and food, the latter which I thought displayed lovely restraint and simplicity. Where good java flows the people will go and at the heart of B&C is an ever-percolating commitment to the bean.
PROS: I would definitely return for the buckwheat waffles (so deceptively light I could swear they were healthy!), the fried chicken and the pork belly dish! The persian iced tea and refresher are wonderful summery drinks. B&C has a chill atmosphere and the fit out is lovely and spacious.
CONS: Location can be problematic for those taking public transport. Give the burger a miss. The portions may be on the small side for moderate-to-big eaters so be sure to supplement with a side of shatteringly crunchy chips made in-house.
Upon stepping into the light-filled airy Waterloo cafe, I felt a sense of peace wash over me. The newly opened Barista and Cook has an easeful feng shui, outfitted with white-washed walls, a blonde-brown bricked interior and harmonious Scandinavian accents courtesy of hospitality design powerhouse Giant Design. Verdant pops of green also add to the botanical vision, from the hanging succulents to miniature gardens that have become fixtures of the long table lazily encircling the food.
All food and drinks are made in-house with the exception of the bread sourced from the ever-excellent Brasserie Bread. Coffee is serious business and their barista-made brew made from Gypsy Espresso beans has a reassuring depth. Their dedicated brew bar serves filter and pour over coffees such as Chemex and V60 using single origin beans.
Owner Alan Thompson (previous owner of Bang Bang cafe) and head chef Adrian Borg (of Excelsior Jones) focuses on seasonal produce, wholesome eating and keeping up with the Jones’s in a foodie world where fried chicken is served in shoeboxes (e.g. Butter) and food arrives on anything BUT plates. Food options range from naughty to nice but there is a real fixation with using quality produce even to create indulgent fare - think mac & cheese toasties on artisanal sourdough paired with house-made relish.
Refresher - watermelon, apple, mint, lime $7.50
If freshly made juices are more your jam, the refresher is a blushed-pink palate cleanser that hits all the right notes. It is tangy, sweet and sings of summery flavours.
Persian Rosewater Iced Tea $6.0
The Persian rosewater iced tea is another favourite at the table, a heady concoction of floral, perfumed tanginess with just the right amount of acidity.
We are also given tasting cups of the Chemex and V60 pour over. While I am not coffee-mad enough to appreciate the subtleties, I found the coffee rich and smooth with a remarkable clarity
Smoked Trout Kedgeree - spiced rice, boiled eggs, citrus yoghurt, coriander $19.5
Kedgeree is an Anglo-Indian dish comprised of flaked and smoked fish, rice, eggs, butter and cream. B&C’s rendition is a hearty serving of aromatic smoked fish and spiced rice that seems more appropriately suited for lunchtime than n their breakfast menu. The acidity of citrus yogurt and lemon work well against the savoury notes of the fish and the nuttiness of toasted grains tie it all together.
Char Grilled Pork Belly - chilli fried eggs • crushed edamame • puffed black rice $18.5
Whoever decided that laughter was the best medicine never stuffed themselves to bursting point full of pork belly. The Char Grilled Pork Belly dish was curated gluttony, the choicest and juiciest nubbins of pork belly char-grilled to mouth-watering perfection. The asian touches are inspired - the pork belly carries the sweetness of korean marinade, working beautifully with edamame and the textural crunch of puffed black rice. Two sunny-side up eggs lightly speckled with chilli flakes ooze barely-set yolk. This is happiness on a plate.
Heirloom Tomato Salad - burrata • poached eggs • herb toast $17.5
But who says you can’t be happy AND make wholesome dietary choices? The Heirloom tomato salad is fresh, vibrant and chock full of antioxidants, doused with olive oil and creamy clouds of burrata cheese. The herb toast is a crunchy pesto-smothered winner that will have you green-ning from ear to ear. Think Middle-Eastern notes set to a contemporary Australian palate.
Grilled Mac ‘n’ Cheese Toastie w/ house relish $12.5
This one is kind of a no-brainer. Golden-brown Brasserie bread grilled to crackly perfection. Mac and cheese lovingly bound by strings of gooey cream sauce. A house relish studded with tomato and onion, tangy and overripe with sweet ketchupy flavour. I am literally drooling as I type.
Grass Fed Cheese Burger milk bun • house pickles • bacon jam • chips $19.0
Holy heart disease! I could feel my arteries hardening as this glistening basket of dietary ‘don’t's made its way to the table. Freshly baptised in oil, the chips are hand-cut and chunky, staying shatteringly-crisp as I tackle the large burger (I am a very slow eater).
The burger is greasy Americana fare that drips with meat juice, a toasted milk bun that hugs a medium patty undercut by sour pickle and sweet bacon jam, I would probably not order this again as I did not feel that it tasted fresh enough and made me feel pretty oily. I felt that it was overly sauced and heavy. 3/5 pickles.
Southern Fried Chicken w/ chipotle mayonnaise $19.5
Whoever invented chicken soup for the soul obviously has never had a decent chunk of fried chicken in their life! B&C’s Southern fried chicken is a comforting pick-me-up perfect for a hangover brunch (or anytime of day, really) that will have you weak at the knees. A crackly spiced exterior yields to tender chicken flesh. The experience is enhanced by gutsy chipotle aioli, which adds acidity and a rich and smoky depth of flavour.
Chips & aioli $8.0
Begrudgingly, the golden batons of deep-fried deliciousness are passed around. Within, the potato is fluffy and not too greasy making it so easy to polish off every last potato nubbin!
Roasted Broccoli marinated chickpeas • toasted almonds • kale • feta • chilli flakes $16.0
I’m always surprised at how quickly salad flies off the table when I share meals. Perhaps this has to do with a newfound health consciousness? Maybe this salad was just THAT good? The roasted broccoli salad was one of the best things I ate that day. Not too substantial but filled with all the good fats that will have you full until dinner, it was nutty, creamy and sweet with lovely caramelised flavour. The textures worked impeccably.
Char Grilled Zucchini black rice • picked fennel • radish • pea sprouts $16.0
The chargrilled zucchini salad was a fresh, vibrant mix of vegetables tossed in a light and zesty dressing with chewy pops of black rice for unexpected texture. Overall we found it blander and a less ‘put-together’ salad compared to the overachieving roasted broccoli salad. As the meal went on, it became quite limp and overly acidic.
Coffee Ice Cream Slider toasted brioche • honey $6.0
I have no bad things to say about this coffee ice cream slider except for the fact that it was a slider and not the size of a small child. The brioche bun was buttery with a caramelised crust, smeared with melted honey and finished with a good smattering of sesame. It sandwiched a coffee ice-cream that was smooth and thankfully not too rich, with a deep earthy flavour.
Buckwheat Waffles - butterscotch pears • raspberries • toasted poppy seeds • creme fraiche ice cream $16.0
The buckwheat waffles are the highlight of the meal, scorched to a crusty finish on the outside with a core that is crumbly and rich, studded with dense brown pockets of buckwheat. The nuttiness is further accentuated by toasted poppy seeds, contrasted with the acidic palate cleanser of raspberry and creme fraiche. Frantic spoons slice through the butterscotch pear with ease. Artful and nuanced, I eat this first with my eyes and then my stomach.
Barista and Cook is a beautiful sun-filled cafe churning out good coffee and wholesome food in trendy Waterloo. The service is friendly, the crowd is easygoing and largely composed of young adults and the older crowd trying to get away from the frenetic hustle of the CBD. Come here, meditate and eat pray love yourself into a good old time!
Barista and Cook
834 Bourke St, Waterloo 2017
TEL: 02 8399 1234