What’s better than a brand new café serving up beautifully presented seasonal dishes made with love? How about all of the above plus a dedicated brew bar serving up filter and pour over coffee such as Chemex and V60 using single origin beans?
That’s just what you’ll find at Waterloo’s newest brunch spot, Barista & Cook. As the name suggests, the eatery is run by dream team Alan Thompson (coffee maestro of Surry Hills’ Bang Bang), and Adrian Borg (fine dining aficionado and former head chef of Ashfield’s Excelsior Jones).
Their collective vision for Barista & Cook is simple: contemporary café food crafted with love, and quality, barista-made coffee. The inventive menu certainly doesn’t stray from this ambition, with offerings such as healthy chia and coconut pudding brekkies, grass-fed burgers, and their signature coffee slider with ice cream, honey and brioche. Drool.
If you’ve gone a bit overboard on all the delicious things (we don’t blame you), don’t worry – you’ll be able to sit back and digest in their super comfortable seating dotted throughout the light and airy Scandinavian-inspired space.
We went behind the scenes and spoke with Alan about all things Barista & Cook.
Can you tell us a bit about your culinary background?
I owned a cafe called Bang Bang in Surry Hills for 6.5 years, which was frequently voted one of the best cafes in Sydney. I was in the music industry for a long time but moved into hospitality basically for the love of coffee and food.
Why did you choose to open in Waterloo?
It’s such a vibrant suburb that is getting bigger and bigger – it’s about to overtake Potts Point as the most densely populated suburb in Sydney. It’s growing so fast.
Your restaurant has quite a unique look – what made you decide to go with a Scandinavian look?
We wanted a cafe that was large but comfortable – I think the more natural, clean and light the surroundings are, the more comfortable people are. So we went for natural, simple colours and textures.
We’ve heard that you partnered with Giant Designs to create the space. Why did you choose them?
I was just browsing online and they really stood out to me when I looked at their portfolio and what they had done in other spaces. Nothing identical to what we have here, but I felt they could carry out the vision I had in mind.
Looks like they’ve done an amazing job. But it’s not just the space that looks awesome– the menu is divine! Where do you get your ideas for menu items from?
Basically the things that are my own favourites! I’ve taken inspiration from my travels, but mostly just the types of things I’d like to see on a menu if I walked into a cafe.
What’s your favourite item on the menu?
The grass-fed beef burger – I love the bacon jam.
What goes into creating the perfect coffee?
Love and passion. A really good barista can make even terrible beans taste good (although our beans are amazing!). But, great beans and a passionate barista are the perfect alchemy.
Obviously, Barista & Cook will be top of the list of our go-to brunch spots but are there any other local businesses that you love?
Kepos St Kitchen is great – Michael comes in regularly. I love the Middle Eastern feeling – they do what they do very well. We also love The Source Bulk Foods where we source lots of our “clean eating” ingredients such as maca, nuts, rice, etc.
Do you have any advice for budding restauranteurs?
Don’t do it! Just kidding… surround yourself with a great team and make sure you hire the right people.
Barista & Cook is open for breakfast and lunch, seven days a week: Monday to Friday 6am – 4pm, and weekends 8am – 12pm for breakfast, and 12pm – 3pm for lunch. Head down to 834 Bourke St, Waterloo and see what all the fuss is about!