The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry | A Sydney Food Blog

Barista and Cook, Waterloo

February 23rd, 2016  |  Published in Cafes, Latest


It’s no cliffhanger what a cafe called Barista and Cook might be fixated on. Coffee isn’t an afterthought, that’s for sure, and it appears in various guises on the menu (cold drip, Chemex and V60; the Gypsy Espresso beans also gatecrash their way onto the dessert menu, as a snowball of gelato that’s wedged between toasted brioche and a good slick of honey).


The barista is ex-DJ Alan Thompson, who ran Bang Bang cafe in Surry Hills until May (as Good Food’s Scott Bolles reported). As someone who built up quite a thing for Bang Bang’s bubble and squeak over Alan’s seven-year rule there, I was happy to learn that he had a new venture on the cards.

And even though he was at Bang Bang for a long time, it turns out he doesn’t miss the shoebox Surry Hills surrounds too much. He told us that having a bigger venue had been on his wish list and no one has skimped on size here – in fact, Barista and Cook is so large that Giant Design required a scissor lift to install the constellation of hanging plants from the open rafters. (The studio’s airy makeover – involving hand-glazed white tiles over black columns, mosaic tiles galore, cute planters and a LOT of white paint – will distract you from the fact this site used to be a Hurricane’s Grill franchise.)


The ‘cook’ that gets headline billing in the cafe’s name is Adrian Borg from Excelsior Jones. With Alan, he’s created a menu that’s basically a time-capsule of 2016. It perfectly sums up the split-personality of cafes these days – where health kicks are lauded (so, think Acai Bowls, Coconut Chia Puddings and Almond Milk Bircher; green drinks with coconut water and kale; and Smoked Trout Kedgeree, which is the cafe’s most popular dish right now) while seams-busting excess is catered to, and the more Instagrammable, the better.

So there’s an Oreo Biscuit Smoothie ($7.50) that follows that freakshake tradition of trying to funnel as much junk food through a drinking jar as possible (in this case, Oreo biscuits that try to crash land through a memory-foam mattress of cream); a Cheeseburger ($19) with bacon jam; and a Grilled Mac ‘n’ Cheese Toastie ($12.50) so rich that we have to ration it between three people (the punchy house relish adds to its unapologetic boldness).


So, it’s tempting to go for the half-half option, of splurging on something big and calorie-busting (like the yes-please toastie) and then tempering it with one of the cleaner options, like the Japanese-style Sweet Potato ($16) salad with edamame, miso and black sesame (as I did on my first visit), or getting the Char Grilled Zucchini Black Rice with Picked Fennel, Radish and Pea Sprouts ($16), just to camouflage the fact that I just really wanted the chunky Chips ($8) that come in that hard-to-resist shade of crisp, salted gold. The fact you can just get both these deep-fryer-huggers and Fermented Vegetables ($3.50) from the sides menu pretty much sums up the menu’s have-it-all extremes. It’s a surefire way to keep everyone happy, regardless of their dietary leanings.


And yes, everything has a 2016 remix to it, which is not necessarily a bad thing at all. I guess you’re gonna feel better about your Banana Smoothie ($7.50) if it comes dosed with almond milk, blueberries, almond milk and at least one health-food-store ingredient you have to Google (maca, in this case). And I like that there is a range of drinks (from Persian Rosewater Iced Tea to DIY juices, kombuchas and beyond).


Barista and Cook might have a lot of crowd-pleasing charm, but there’s one area that it doesn’t entirely concede on. It’s strict about its timekeeping and it doesn’t feature all-day breakfast like most cafes do on the weekend. So if you’re in an eggs-and-toast mood, you really do need to obey your alarm clock. (I have a feeling it might be worth it for morning-starters such as the Buckwheat Waffles with Butterscotch Pears, Raspberries and Creme Fraiche Ice Cream).


The good news, though, is you can get that coffee ice-cream sandwich on brioche any time. I think both baristas and cooks would approve of that round-the-clock access.

Barista and Cook, 834 Bourke Street, Waterloo NSW (02) 8399 1234, Find Barista and Cook on Facebook and Instagram.

Tags: , , ,

Your Comments



Hi, I'm Lee Tran Lam. When not blogging with my mouth full, I'm usually writing, presenting Local Fidelity on FBi radio, making zines, producing podcasts or continually breaking promises about how I really am gonna get through my book pile one day.

All the good pictures on this blog are by photography ace (and patient boyfriend), Will Reichelt, (all the dodgy ones can be credited to me)!

The lovely banner is by friend and ultra-talented illustrator Grace Lee.

This site redesign was made possible by the next-level generosity and expertise of Daniel Boud, whose code-tinkering ways are only outranked by his seriously inspired way with a camera.

You can read more about my co-conspirators here.

This is a blog I do for pure fun and zero influence – there's no sponsorship, sneaky advertorial or advertising. I pay for all the food mentioned, 'cos it seems the ethical thing to do.


This is a blog about eating and drinking in Sydney, Australia (with the odd cross-border or off-topic detour). BYO appetite.

Subscribe via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.