“Where are all the books?” says a young mother in a surprised and panicked tone, as she turns and pushes her stroller into what she thought was Berkelouw Books. The look on her face was priceless.
That’s the thing about Newtown. Turn your back for a few months and you’ve got something new happening. What was once a warehouse filled with books and a lofty cafe has been transformed into Newtown’s latest address for coffee, food and a thing or two to buy.
Brewtown Newtown is the newest venture by the folk behind Gnome in Surry Hills. The bones of the warehouse have been retained and subtly sectioned into a variety of seating, an open kitchen and coffee making counter.
The coffee sure hits the mark. It may just be an introductory offer, but if you lift your cup and see a coffee bean motif on the saucer, rather than the regular gnome motif, a free coffee is coming your way. Looks like I was a winner!
The breakfast menu offers the regular muesli or egg dishes but there are few more creative delectables if you want to step away from the conventional. Beetroot cured ocean trout (15) was they way to go, on my first visit. A slice of toasted rye sourdough, generous smear of smashed avocado, watercress, Persian feta, beetroot relish and some glorious ruby ribbons of ocean trout.
The second visit was geared for the lunch menu. A bunch of sandwiches sounded tempting enough but it was the braised rabbit (15) that stood out from almost everything else. Slowly cooked with veggies and tomatoes and spiced up with cinnamon. A flavour combination that could easily be mistaken for a Moroccan tagine. The meat is sweet, tender and beyond generous for the price point. The polenta “crouton” on which it rests is more like a soft baked wedge of polenta that absorbs all of the glorious juices. And the poached summer plum is the perfect accompaniment.
The other go-to dish has to be the duck ravioli (16). Two very large and very plump pasta pillows loaded with shredded and slightly sweet duck meat. Porcini and wild mushrooms bring a rich earthiness, and a light dribble of truffle oil over the shaved cheese is enough to make you salivate before you even get a taste.
There’s no dessert menu as such; just a small glass cabinet tacked to the end of the counter, displaying a few pastries and muffins that are made in-house. Now it may not be from New York’s Dominique Ansel Bakery, but the cronut here at Brewtown has already become one of its more popular items. Forget the fork that comes with it, as eating something like this involves the fingers. Layers of light croissant-doughnut pastry that’s doused in cinnamon sugar. It’s worth getting sugar all over your face for.
Upstairs is O’Connell Street Merchants, a collaboration of independent fashion, design and lifestyle concepts and a soon-to-open gelato and affogato bar. There’s a florist, Samantha Robinson porcelain, TokyoBike bikes, homewares, stationary and accessories from The Dan300 Group, ici et la deck chairs and sustainable clothing from Tluxe.
How about one more cronut teaser?