It never fails to astound me how Night Owl has never explored all that Newtown has to offer, having lived in the adjoining suburb of Enmore for over a year. Then again, I can’t really be one to dish out criticism as its only been late last year that I first went to two bakeries in my own suburb barely a five minute walk away – one with the best almond croissants I’ve ever tasted (so sinfully buttery and rich, but so good), and the other with the best seeded loaf I’ve ever had (I devoured two slices of the freshly baked bread the afternoon I bought it, slathered generously in Lurpack).
I’ve recently pushed us out of our usual comfortable brunch spots to try a few different things that everyone has been raving out. Bourke Street Bakery the weekend just gone, Black Star Pastry for one of their legendary pies and “that” Strawberry and Watermelon Cake, and this review is about the time we woke up relatively early enough to hit up Brewtown Newtown.
It was roughly 10am, which I thought would be early enough for Sunday – evidently not. There were already little groups of people milling around in the little lane of O’Connell Street, sleepy, hungry eyes turned hopefully to the interior of the industrial-chic cafe where those ensconced happily sipped coffees and nibbled on hipster-plated salads and Brewnuts (photos to come later). Not finding a waiting list outside, I head inside to hunt it down; turns out it wasn’t located at the counter either, but one of the staff was floating around with it. I manage to track her down and put my name under the waiting list of eight or so hopefuls. We decide to find some takeaway coffee first as the wait was estimated to be half an hour or so, and make our way to another well-known Newtown cafe institution where the coffee turned out to be not only exxy but rather disappointingly average too.
We are well and truly done with our coffees when my name is called, and we were seated down at a sharing communal table and given our menus and a glass of chilled sparkling water each – a lovely surprise. Night Owl orders another cappuccino ($3.50) while I’m caffeinated out so opt for the Teacraft Earl Grey Blue Flower ($4.50) which arrived in a sturdy cast-iron tea pot on a lovely board-set.
Night Owl has one sip of her coffee and exclaims, so of course I have to try it too. It’s smooth and bold, the flavour having so much more depth and characteristics than the coffee we just discarded outside. Of course, it probably helps that Brewtown have a coffee roaster upstairs… Just FYI, the Brewnuts and Cruffins are sold upstairs due to their high demand.
The all day breakfast menu reminds me of the breakfast menus we saw on last year’s trip to Melbourne. You have your usual brioche rolls, poached or scrambled eggs on toast, organic toast and home-made jams, but also an almond and pistachio gazpacho, salmon gravalax salad, and black sausage with capsicum and paprika puree, zucchini ribbons, olive and goats cheese. I toss up between the latter two, then make up my mind on the Salmon Gravalax, taramasalata, beetroot, radish, poached egg, caviar and herb salad ($16).
It’s a fresh, colourful and lively affair, and I ignore the coriander prettily adorning the top before digging in. The egg was a touch overcooked to be poached – still moist but not runny, but adds some much-needed protein to the salad. The silky salmon had its oiliness balanced out by the zest and tang from the herbs and bitter salad leaves, while the taramasalata (a Greek/Turkish dip made out of cod roe) provided a flavourful addition with it being smeared discretely over the base of the plate underneath the leaves. It was rather a novelty having caviar at that hour of the morning, but I was not complaining!
Night Owl had ordered the Chilli Fennel Pork Shoulder Hash with cabbage, peas, poached eggs, parmesan and cumin crumbs ($19), which arrived as one enormously generous serving.
It was rustically flavoursome and hearty; a little too protein-heavy for me as breakfast – this for me would lean more towards a winter dish. The pork is tender and aromatically flavoured, quite light on the chilli with the fennel shining through, and while the cabbage is buttery, it still retains some of its crunch.
It was a very large serving, so it’s with little surprise that I’m done before her, and I’m starting to longingly eye the Brewnuts and Cruffins displayed behind me on the coffee counter. Brewnuts – being Brewtown’s infamous cronuts, and Cruffins – the lovechild of a croissant and muffin.
I was not perturbed by the oil-soaked baking paper underneath the Brewnuts, but Night Owl was fit to burst with her enormous breakfast and refuses to share one with me. Not being able to scoff one down myself, I heave a resigned sigh and make her promise that we would come again to try one…at least one.
6-8 O’Connell Street
Newtown NSW 2042
(02) 9519 2920