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