Barista and Cook, Waterloo

Cafes, Eat, Sydney / 24 February 2016

Comfort food done well at Barista and Cook

“If you had to live without coffee or food for the rest of your life which one would you choose?” This was the serious question being asked amongst the Eat Drink Play team earlier this week as we sat down for lunch. Take out of the equation that we all need food to live (some would argue this is the same for coffee) it’s a pretty tough choice. Thankfully at Waterloo’s newest cafe Barista and Cook you can have an excellent selection of both without having to decide.
You’ll find Barista and Cook on Bourke Street where the dark interiors of steakhouse Hurricane’s Express used to reside. Owner Alan Thompson, who previously owned Surry Hills’ cafe Bang Bang, has transformed it into a light and breezy space. Pot plants hang from the high ceiling while ferns and succulents occupy the exposed brick walls and custom build tables, bringing life to the minimalist, Scandinavian style fit out.
We instantly felt at ease, as we sit down in the comfy booths with fluffy linen covered cushions and peruse the menu.
The menu is innovative and creative, with original and interesting items for both breakfast and lunch. We start off with some decadent milkshakes – The Oreo Biscuit smoothie and the Malted Banana Jersey Shake. The Oreo Biscuit smoothie is a highlight, coming out in a mason jar with whipped creme and pieces of Oreo crumbled on top. The malted banana jersey milkshake didn’t look as pretty, coming out in the typical large, aluminium jug but tasted just as good.
Barista and Cook Oreo Smoothie Milkshake
With barista in their name, the cafe has a lot to live up to with their coffee and they do not disappoint. So next, we tried the V60 Pour Over cold-drip coffee, a perfect refreshment for that hot summer day. In fact, they take their cold drip coffee quite seriously at Barista and Cook with all sorts of equipment on hand to make you the perfect drop.
Almost every cafe has a burger on the menu but this one caught our attention with the addition of homemade bacon jam. It’s that good, we suggest the chef starts selling it by the jar. The cheeseburger has a delicious, smokey flavour, served with big fat thrice-cooked chips.
You can choose one of three salads to accompany any of the three meat mains including  Southern Fried Chicken, char-grilled barramundi and crispy pork. This innovative idea means you can make your own creations, with all salads and meats pairing together well. We order the chicken with the sweet potato salad of shaved cabbage, edamame, miso, black sesame, coriander.
Our second salad is on the healthier side with barramundi paired with the zucchini salad with black rice, picked fennel, radish, pea sprouts. The salad is light and tangy and the barramundi was cooked to perfection, flavoured with a coriander pesto. Definitely one to try if you’re looking for a healthier option.
However, if you’re looking for the opposite, the grilled mac’n’cheese toastie has fast become a favourite at the cafe, with many toasties being shilled out to the punters. Creator Alan cheekily admits it was a midnight creation of the only two things we had in the fridge, and managed to create something special. Our team is torn on this one. Some think the toastie needs more salt, while others love the creaminess of the macaroni cheese. Definitely a menu item that will cause some heated discussions.
Finally, we try they one and only dessert – the coffee slider. Homemade ice cream, made with their house coffee, Gypsy, mixed with jersey milk. The ice cream is delicious with a great taste of coffee. Unfortunately, sandwiched between two pieces of toasted brioche don’t work for us. The brioche is dry and crumbly, and loses the amazing taste of the ice cream. Both elements would be great on their own or paired with other things, just not together. We’d have to say this was the only pothole in a fantastic dining experience.
Make sure to head out to the upcoming area on Bourke Street to check it out before the crowds come rushing. For the coffee fiends, they are open for a whole hour before and after opening the kitchen. Maybe coffee secretly is more important than food!
Barista and Cook 
834 Bourke St, Waterloo NSW 8399 1234
Monday to Friday 6am–4pm
Weekends & Public Holidays 8am–4pm
Monday to Friday 7am–3pm
Weekends & Public Holidays 8am–3pm