The coffee gods have smiled upon Waterloo with the opening of Barista & Cook. It's the new eatery by Alan Thompson, the previous owner of Bang Bang in Surry Hills. Given the caffeinated focus of the venue's name, it's no surprise that Barista & Cook offers plenty of coffee variations you could dream of - cold drip, Chemex, V60 pour over as well as classic espressos.
Thompson, a self-declared coffee freak, points out that the seemingly new approaches he's taking are actually old methods. "Things like Chemex and pour overs, they are brewing techniques that have been around for a long long time, and they're just making a resurgence now," says Thompson.
The venue has been open for only two weeks, but already the crowds have descended. "It's hectic," says owner Alan Thompson. "We've come out of the stalls running, which is a good problem to have. I think we are in an area that was desperate and dying for a cafe, really."
After seven years of operation, Alan sold Bang Bang in May last year in search of something larger. He certainly found it at Barista & Cook, situated just up the road from Green Square station. The suburb is one of Sydney's fastest-growing areas and is expected to become the most densely populated area of the country. "I wanted to open a bigger operation. I had my eyes on Randwick or Maroubra. Then this site came up and I just thought, 'Wow. This is going to be a perfect cafe.'"
His new venue, by Giant Design (Mamas Buoi, Cuckoo Callay), is light and full of space. A lattice of plants, suspended from the ceiling, adds a cluster of lush greenery to the pared-back interiors of exposed brick, blond wood and concrete floors.
Head chef Adrian Borg from Excelsior Jones is the 'Cook' in the cafe's name and he has given the food a fresh twist. Start the morning off strong with char-grilled pork belly with chilli fried eggs, crushed edamame and puffed black rice ($18.50). Or try smoked trout kedgeree with spiced rice, boiled eggs, citrus yoghurt and coriander ($19.50).
For lunch, Thompson recommends the specialty cheeseburger ($19). "A cheeseburger is a cheeseburger, right? Not at Barista and Cook! It's grass-fed beef on a milk bun with cheese, house pickles and we use bacon jam as our relish - which we make in house," he says.
"It takes about four hours to break down. You put bacon in a pot with a whole lot of different flavours and seasonings and it becomes this really thick, gooey relish. So instead of having some rashers of bacon, you get this big dollop of bacon jam."
Open Mon-Fri, 6am-4pm, Sat-Sun, 8am-3pm
834 Bourke Street Waterloo, 02 8399 1234, baristaandcook.com.au