Brewtown Newtown

6-8 O'Connell Street, Newtown, NSW

Warm lighting gives the industrial interior a lift.
Warm lighting gives the industrial interior a lift. Photo: Fiona Morris

Georgia Waters

When the Newtown branch of Berkelouw Books shut in September, the closure was not welcomed by locals. The converted warehouse, just off the bustle of King Street, was perfect for a bookstore, with its ground floor of glossy new releases and cosy leather sofas amid shelves of second-hand books upstairs.

But for two Sydney coffee professionals, the old two-storey building was just right for an ambitious new coffee-focused cafe. Brewtown Newtown, which opened in December, is the creation of friends and business partners Simon Triggs and Charles Cameron.

The two met while working as managers for Toby's Estate and went on to launch Surry Hills' Gnome (Triggs) and work for Single Origin Roasters (Cameron), before looking for a spot to open a cafe together.

Beetroot-cured ocean trout, avocado smash, rye sourdough.
Beetroot-cured ocean trout, avocado smash, rye sourdough. Photo: Fiona Morris

On the ground floor, they have installed a bar almost the length of the room, allowing patrons to watch baristas at work behind the espresso machine or at the gadget-stacked brew bar. Check out the high-tech Steampunk Mod, the computerised brewer that is reportedly the first brought to Australia. The bare industrial bones of the building haven't changed, with exposed brick walls and concrete floors given a lift with white paint, warm lighting and vases of fresh flowers.

Under chef Alun Evans, formerly of Surry Hills' Toko, the menu is a bistro-cafe hybrid. Breakfast might be ocean trout cured with beetroot, or black sausage with hash browns and boiled eggs, while lunch runs from duck ravioli with porcini and wild mushrooms to poached chicken and quinoa salad and deli-style sandwiches of pastrami and sauerkraut.

On a warm Saturday, we arrive early enough to miss the late-morning queue. Well-informed staff are keen to talk food or coffee, and bring glasses of complimentary on-tap sparkling water. There are no bottled drinks for sale, in a bid to cut waste.

Cronuts are baked daily.
Cronuts are baked daily. Photo: Fiona Morris

Our plate of polenta and eggs is substantial but not too heavy, the creamy polenta cut into thick slabs and baked, served beneath a meaty, juicy field mushroom, two soft-poached eggs and shaved parmesan, with a pile of thin asparagus spears adding crunch and freshness.

The beetroot-cured ocean trout is sweet and briny, the deep coral curls of fish piled onto rye toast spread with avocado and feta, under a tangle of parsley and watercress.

We have also ordered a plate of stonefruit salad that arrives looking like a watercolour, with slices of blushing fruit scattered with pomegranate seeds and crushed pistachios. Fried brioche cubes add contrast.

Then there are the cronuts, the croissant-doughnut hybrid imported from New York. Baked at Brewtown daily, they are responsible for at least some of that queue. Order one early, or weep.

Brewtown offers two custom blends for its espresso coffee: the Casablanca for milk-based drinks and Metropolis for black. There is also a single origin on rotation. Filter coffee is offered hot, brewed in the Steampunk, or cold-brewed, which is stored in canisters and served on tap. Tea is by Teacraft and is served by the pot for a reasonable $3.50.

Meanwhile, upstairs is an airy retail space, run by Triggs' wife as O'Connell St Merchants, selling chic homewares, eyewear and clothing by local designers. The cafe is set to expand into the space as well with an affogato bar, a collaboration with Enmore's Cow and the Moon gelateria, as well as a pastry kitchen selling cronuts.

With further plans in place for Brewtown to begin roasting its own beans later this year, it's already shaping up to be one of the most interesting new cafes of the year. Get in line.

Menu Bistro-inspired brunch and serious coffee.

Recommended dishesBeetroot-cured ocean trout, avocado smash, rye sourdough toast; fruit salad with croutons; baked polenta with mushrooms and eggs.

Value Good.

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6-8 O'Connell Street, Newtown, NSW

  • Cuisine - Modern Australian
  • Prices - Breakfast, $6-$16.50; lunch, $10-$17.
  • Owners - Simon Triggs and Charles Cameron
  • Opening Hours - Mon-Sun, 8am-4pm (Retail space, Thu-Sun, 10am-4pm.)
  • Author - Georgia Waters
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5 comments so far

  • Newtown is overrun by eateries and restaurants we need something else in Newtown.
    sick and tired of the is new modern shops. hate hate hate it..
    id like to see good old fish and chip shops and eateries open and stop this madness..

    bring back the old and good and cheap eats not this new restaurants where they'll charge you an arm and leg for a good and proper meal.

    Date and time
    February 08, 2014, 9:52AM
  • Yawn. Yet another identical looking "industrial chic" cafe that is full of insecure hipsters taking photos of their food. And queues for food? Seriously? The only people I know who queue for food are either Russian or Ethiopian.

    Date and time
    February 08, 2014, 12:31PM
  • What are you on about wogstar? Newtown and it's surrounding suburbs are full of cheap eats, that's what makes dining out and shopping in the inner west so popular, because it's cheap and eclectic. Go and get a healthy $10 bowl of pho or a $6 thai lunch. If you want deep fired fish and chips well they have that too, in shops and in numerous pubs.

    Thank god we don't have the foul stench of subw@y or the golden arches wafting down king st is all I can say

    Newtown proud
    Date and time
    February 09, 2014, 10:18PM
  • I went here yesterday with some family, and to say I was disappointed is an understatement. Let me list the reasons why:
    1. No ice cream. No ice-cream for the cronut, none for the ice chocolate, none for an affogato. DESPITE ice cream being upstairs (separate entity apparently...?), but closed. I have never known a cafe without ice-cream.
    2. The cro-nut was under cooked. Like, really undercooked. Doughy, raw kind of undercooked.
    3. Too many hipsters on the staff with moustaches. And they curl their moustaches too.
    4. Take away cups and paraphernalia on display- just not a nice look.
    5. $8 (!!!) for a coffee from the Steampunk.

    Underwhelmed. Disappointed. Maximum of 1 out of 5 stars, and that is mainly for effort.

    Grumpy Chef
    Date and time
    April 26, 2014, 1:42PM
  • I agree with Newtown Proud, There is plenty to choose from in Newtown for what ever your budget. I haven't tried Brewtown yet but sounds great for the morning fuel. I can't go past Campos Coffee and bakery on Fountain Street Alexandria for my morning take away while taking the doggies to Sydney Park.

    Date and time
    April 30, 2014, 3:26PM

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