4 St Johns Avenue Gordon, New South Wales 207202 9499 8799
|Opening hours||Mon-Fri 6am-6pm, Sat-Sun 7am-4pm|
|Prices||Moderate (mains $20-$40)|
|Payments||eftpos, AMEX, Visa, Mastercard|
Let's say you're craving a bowl of fragrant Vietnamese pho noodle soup. But first you're meeting friends for coffee, and then you have to pick up a loaf of bread and a lemon meringue tart for dinner. Given Sydney's disobliging public transport system and/or traffic, that's not going to happen easily. Unless …
Welcome to Pottery Green Bakers, your one-stop noodle shop, bakery, pie shop and cafe. Think Hanoi's Old Quarter by way of a Parisian Left Bank patisserie and Surry Hills coffee house, just off the Pacific Highway in Gordon. But why all the multitasking?
The answer lies in the multitalented Tran family, whose various siblings - William, Ian and Aimy - work in the bakery, kitchen and on the floor of this or their parents' original PGB in Longueville Road, Lane Cove. They've styled it deliciously, from the beaten metal box stools at the thick wooden share tables to the fairy lights, the vintage scales, the mock old-school wiring and the wall of freshly baked baguettes, constantly replenished by young bakers in flour-dusted aprons.
Those crusty rolls do double duty, first as breakfast baguettes of bacon, poachies, baby spinach and hollandaise, then as lunchtime banh mi, filled with lemongrass chicken or Vietnamese pork, pickled carrot and cucumber and an internal smear of home-made pate (authentic) and another of lemon-chive mayo (not so authentic, but good).
''Mum's Awesome Pho Beef Noodle Soup'' ($12) is beautifully presented on a wooden tray with little copper dishes of hoisin and chilli sauces, lemon and bean shoots. The swathes of slow-cooked brisket and rare beef are topped with finely sliced onion, and the broth is clear and sweet-smelling, delicately haunted by the ghosts of cardamom, cassia and star anise.
The cafe may be multitasking, but the customers seem to know what they want. Some come from as far as SoHa (south of the harbour) for the pho, others for the earthy, bittersweet Toby's Estate Woolloomooloo blend coffee. Local workers are here for house-baked sausage rolls, lamingtons and chocolate eclairs with an almost savoury choux pastry; local students for frothy pink milkshakes in glass jugs. Service is queue-and-pay, and food can be a little slow, so you may as well window-shop the patisserie while you wait, or read one of the paperbacks thoughtfully provided.
This multitasking thing could catch on.
Do … go for coffee, stay for pho noodle soup.
Don't … multitask too many chocolate eclairs.
Dish … Mum's Awesome Pho Beef Noodle Soup, $12.
Vibe … the charm of old Hanoi in a warm, woodsy cafe.