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Blacksmith Cafe & Bakery, Surry Hills

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As as an art the­ory and his­tory stu­dent, I only ever knew of the ware­house space on Chalmers St across from Prince Alfred Park as being home to FirstDraft, “an artist-led organ­isa­tion that fosters and cre­ates a pro­fes­sion­al con­text for the explor­a­tion of exper­i­ment­al and emer­ging arts prac­tice”. I’d vis­ited as a stu­dent, and then barely paid the area much atten­tion since.

H, how­ever, aler­ted me to the Blacksmith Cafe and Bakery that was occupy­ing a ware­house space. Having not kept up with the news on Firstdraft, I had no idea that it had relo­cated and that the same cafe had taken over its premises. That said, the rus­tic, indus­tri­al fit out of the cafe is intric­ately detailed. While the intern­al space is dimly lit and remin­science of a tav­ern, nat­ur­al light floods the space from its front­age onto Chalmers St.

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Even the menus come leath­er bound and embroidered with their logo. The tables range from pol­ished wood to marble and exposed rock.

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I order the Grilled Chicken Baguette ($14) with wal­nuts, shal­lots, lettuce, aioli. It also comes with cel­ery (which I opted out) and tomato (which I didn’t notice was miss­ing until after­wards).

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The baguette is fra­grant and crispy, and the top­pings are gen­er­ous. There’s a thick bed of salad, and tender, juicy (non-stringy) chick­en breast with every bite. The wal­nuts added a very pleas­ant crunch and nut­ti­ness, and the drizzle of aioli was just per­fect without being heavy handed. The addi­tion of toma­toes would’ve added a deli­cious sweet­ness to the baguette, but alas it was miss­ing.

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A long week at work called for an Iced Coffee ($7) with vanilla ice cream and chocol­ate powder. It was an aver­age cof­fee — the kind to which you need to add spoon­fuls sug­ar for it to taste above aver­age — and the ice cream added a pleas­ant cream­i­ness to the drink.

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A few months later, N and I stumbled in to check out their dessert cab­in­et that I’d eyed earli­er. We both love tangy lem­on tarts, and this one was sat­is­fy­ing. The scorched meringue was marsh­mal­lowy soft — it’s, put simply, the very best meringue I’ve had on lem­on meringue tart. It was a star in itself, rather than the ‘stuff I have to get through to get to the lem­on curd’. The lem­on curd, though, was gen­er­ously filled to the rim of the thin pastry shell, and the sweet­ness of the meringue amp­li­fied the deli­cious tang of the curd. And to top it off, the con­cen­trated lem­on fla­vours in the freeze dried lem­on slice was a mem­or­able end to one of the best lem­on meringue tarts.

The atmo­sphere is pleas­ant and the staff were accom­mod­at­ing. I’ll be back.

Blacksmith Cafe & Bakery is loc­ated at 116 Chalmers St, Surry Hills NSW 2010.