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Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Review Of The Cook And The Baker In Bondi Junction, Sydney - There Is No Substitute For Quality

It was in the late 90's I recall that a cafe called 'Crave' emerged in the quaint and quieter part of Bellevue Hill in Sydney's East. It made for an unlikely cafe. It was a dingy looking space with a sloping pavement outside and it made it almost impossible to enjoy your coffee for fear that the table was never on stable ground. Despite all this, the surviving principle of this particular cafe was that the quality of the food was so delicious that despite whatever protestations the wives had as they parked their SUV's and stations wagons outside, they paid the price because they knew they couldn't get the same thing elsewhere. Of note were the bacon and egg with cherry tomato breakfast tarts which relied on creamy eggs, a generous rash of thickly spiralled bacon and a cherry tomato that popped in your mouth with the crumble of the pastry -  and if you weren't lucky the tomato juice would burn the roof off and ruin the rest of the experience. You could rely on a consistent coffee, an excellent tuna focacia sandwich with capers, dill and potato; an excellent ham, cheese, tomato and mustard baguette and a chicken pie which made your eyes water when the tiny flakes of pastry got caught in the back of your throat.

The reason the cafe did so well was because of the driving energy of the female owner, Cherie. It was a husband and wife team but I certainly felt, as did one of my gourmand friends, that she was the heart and beat of the operation.

That was then.

Today Crave cafe, on my last inspection, was like a ghost town. Cherie had sold the business and was nowhere to be seen. The new operators seemed lackadaisical and this trickled into the offering. Suddenly there was no stock in the display hood, the coffee seemed off, those wonderful sauce bottles disappeared. Before long the throng of SUV's and station wagons no longer stopped, they just kept driving.

But now.

I had an animated telephone call from my brother. "You won't believe it, Cherie's back in business! The new place is called The Cook & The Baker, it's on Oxford Street"

A visit to Officeworks this week to stock up on stationary meant that I got to indulge in Cherie's cooking. I am here to tell you that you can't keep a good woman down. It was onwards and upwards for Cherie as I dove straight into a salted caramel slice, a plum tart, a piccolo latte, a chocolate dusted doughnut with caramel jam inside and a flaky chicken and taragon pie. Heaven is when you get great food and good service. Cherie was cheerful, walked me through the new selections and came out to hand me a 'must have' doughnut which I hear is making ripples across Sydney's gourmet magazines. 

The secret to Cherie's success is simple. She is not afraid to use fat in her cooking. She understands how to blend flavours, textures and consistencies. And, she knows that if you give customers quality food they will gladly pay for it. 

I thank my lucky stars she is back in business. For a while there I was starting to 'crave' her cooking...

Delivering quality food once again, Cherie from The Cook And The Baker


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