It’s easy to take a place for granted. Sometimes you forget to share or celebrate the sheer brilliance of a place because it is part of your regular routine. I came to that realisation as I walked into Bourke Street Bakery yet again, as I placed my order, looked around, and with a smile on my face thought, “that’s right, this is great.”
Artisanal, traditional, and rather wonderful. People rave about this bakery, and visitors to Sydney flock its doors in search of their famous breads and pastries.
When baker Paul Allam and pastry chef David McGuinness opened their flagship store in Bourke Street, Surry Hills, they put heart and soul into their venture, but they probably didn’t expect their success to grow with such momentum. In less than a decade, Allam and McGuinness have made a name for themselves by producing quality sourdough and semi-sourdough breads with utmost respect, using organic products, creating a sense of community and offering great customer service. Allam and McGuiness are also co-authors of Bourke Street Bakery, the ultimate baking companion, a cookbook which is available in store and they also own sister eatery Wilbur’s Place, and even offer bread baking classes for both expert and novice cooks.
There are five Bourke Street Bakery locations spread out around Sydney, filled with excellent breads, pies, sausage rolls, sandwiches, cakes and coffee. I am a regular at the Potts Point store. It is larger than the original one at Surry Hills, and has a communal seating area inside as well as several two-seater tables in and outside the shop.
Potts Point also has the privilege of serving weekday lunchtime specials. Several salads on rotation and hearty daily soups make for a wholesome way to enjoy a midday meal. I drop by for lunch on occasion, and have had the pleasure of enjoying large bowls of pork, cabbage and green capsicum soup; chicken, cauliflower and sweet corn; or pumpkin and chorizo accompanied by a lightly toasted piece of bread. It always hits the spot.
Croissants, pain au chocolat, pear and cherry danishes, and the range of sourdough bread tend to be standard options for a perfect breakfast. Some stellar bread combinations include sourdough with fig and cranberry, hazelnut and raisin, potato and rosemary, and prune with roasted almond. The more filling range of pies and sausage rolls are flaky, fragrant, and exquisite. When I do take some of their deliciousness home, the lamb, almond and harissa sausage roll is a regular request.
The sweet tarts have made Bourke Street Bakery famous, French in style and addictive in nature. Lemon curd, ginger brûlée, chocolate mousse with raspberry, rhubarb and almond, passionfruit meringue, and a dense chocolate tart. The counter at the bakery is filled with fresh sandwiches, bialys (Bourke Street’s style of bagel), muffins, oatmeal cookies, flourless chocolate cake by the slice, and its highly lauded carrot cake.
You can order take-away, or grab a seat. If time permits, I’d suggest you stay and enjoy your order along with a bottle of cold Belgian chocolate milk from the drink fridge, or perhaps mandarin juice or fresh lemonade. The service team is friendly, trained to make good lattes, espresso, and tea, and it handles the numerous customers rather well.
From breakfast to brunch, to an afternoon treat, Bourke Street Bakery serves food anyone can relate to. That’s why I keep going back, and I guess that’s why it’s still as popular as back in 2004. It won’t break the bank and it’ll nicely tantalise your taste buds. Do yourself a favour and go buy a loaf and have a tart or two.
Bourke Street Bakery
633 Bourke Street
Surry Hills, NSW 2010
Tel +61 2 9699 1011
Mon-Fri: 7am – 6pm, Sat-Sun: 8am-5pm
46a Macleay Street
Potts Point, NSW 2011
Tel +61 2 9380 9700
Mon-Fri: 7am-5pm, Sat-Sun: 8am-5pm