Wednesday 1 July 2009

Bean There Done That Review: Where can I find Bourke Street Bakery?

W D NICOLSON: 'BEAN THERE DONE THAT' REVIEW July 1st 2009 "The hunt for good beans has just begun..." Where can I find Bourke Street Bakery? Because as I sit in a building on the corner of Gardeners Road and Ellis Avenue in Alexandria, I sit confused. All the signs on the windows and walls proclaim this to be 'Bourke Street Bakery', yet there seems to be no physical correlation between the location and the bakery I currently reside in. It is a tick after 10am on a Wednesday morning in the southern city suburbs of Sydney and having just dropped off an illegal immigrant at the airport for deportation to Brazil via Buenos Aires, a good coffee is in order given the 6am start was followed by a commute from north western Sydney to the airport and then two hours at the terminal repacking overweight bags so our bearded alien is allowed on the plane. Circumstances lead me to be dropped off in front of this corner cafe/bakery which as explained above - tries to convince you are somewhere other than where you actually are. Confusion aside and inside the bakery, a baker and his tray of fresh pork sausage rolls weaves between myself and a fellow customer as I weigh up what tasty delight will go with my large cappuccino - which is all I know I want before I walk in. There are sourdoughs a-go-go in the store - all at 500% markups on a regular bakery but they are dressed in expensive looking paper of the brown variety, so $5 for a small loaf no bigger than a grapefruit looks like a bargain... Despite the impressive pork pastry fly by moments earlier, I settle on a beef pie that preceded the pork pastry encounter and settle into the ONLY corner of the store where seating is available. The bakery takes up much of the room in the building and there are perhaps twenty total seats on the floor plan but we'd be packed in like sardines if you tried to fill every space. Judging by the room I had sitting along the front window you might get four groups of people sitting in relative comfort inside at any one time but even then those groups would not want more than three persons among them. Space issues aside (and yes I realise that this must sound like a football field in comparison to inner city cafes) the coffee arrives with personal delivery by the barista who reminds me of an acquaintance from school I can't identify in detail, although his likeness fits a theme given the assistant who served me initially was a spitting image of an old church friend with a similar fear of shaving. As I take my first sip of their 'Aroma Coffee' brand I am thankful for its warmth as my position at the window is definitely the coolest spot in the shop. Literally - the cold chill of the morning has yet to leave the glass and there's an edge to the air inside. The coffee itself was not overly flavourful on the first or second mouthful. In fact it may be fair to say it was non-descript initially. But then the aftertaste kicks in and the smoothness it leaves on your pallet is unmistakable. As the sips increase and the coffee level decreases the rich smooth flavour grabs your taste buds and doesn't let go. It is a fine brew as a total package with the generous amount of bitter chocolate powder sticking to the walls of the cup as you drink a bonus. On more than one occasion the tongue dipped in for an extra hit of that choc goodness and it mixes very well with the coffee experience. Admittedly the beef pie I did order was nothing more than an average product. Maybe I'm just spoilt for comparisons given the quality of pies at a certain shop on NSW's mid north coast but whilst there are decent chunks of braised beef present inside the crisp yet dull tasting pastry - a parcel of gristly fat made it through the screening process and diminished the product even more. The vegetable infused gravy was passable but the price of the pie at $4.80 and inexcusable 60c for a tiny sachet of run of the mill tomato sauce left the experience leagues behind the coffee - which at $3.40 for a large cappuccino is happily paid. Bottom Line: Overall the location isn't kind to me given I am rarely in these parts of Sydney, so despite a smooth delivery on the coffee front, the ordinary beef pie and excessive price tags of the other bread based items (as well as having to pay for 3ml of tomato sauce) make a return trip to Bourke Street Bakery a seasonal proposition at best. And by seasonal, I mean the next time I need to transport my brother in law's brother to the airport to catch a flight to Brazil via Argentina. Getting there? Bourke Street Bakery has three stores - the original as you've probably figured out is actually located on Bourke Street. But I walked into their Alexandria store so the avenue I took in the review made sense... by not making sense. Bean There Done That Review was done at this store: 474 Gardeners Road, Alexandria, Sydney, NSW, 2020, Australia The Coffee Experience in One Word: Ingratiating