On Saturday morning around 7 a.m., it all began, as hordes of homesick Aussies, NoMad locals, and food tourists from all over town showed up in line-out-the-door numbers to welcome the first American outpost of the hugely popular Australian cafe chain, Bourke Street Bakery.
For Jessica Grynberg, who managed the morning mob scene with remarkably gracious calm, and her husband Paul Allam, the chef/baker who co-founded the whole operation and cranks up the ovens every day at 4:30 a.m., this adventure began many months ago. And not only did the couple have to endure all of the usual headaches involved in opening a NYC restaurant, they also picked up their entire lives and moved here from Sydney with their three kids.
If Grynberg and Allam have been stressed by all of this, you'd never know it by the way they pulled off opening day, which featured fully-stocked cases of baked goodies, a full menu of breakfast treats and lunchtime salads and sandwiches, with most everything constantly replenished as hundreds of hungry people showed up wanting it all, plus coffee. Then again, keeping up with long lines isn't exactly new to the couple, whose 11 cafes in Sydney are regularly swamped.
Bourke Street has a long list of pastries available every day at the front counter, from first-rate Croissants and an especially good Pain au Chocolat to a variety of tarts (the Ginger Creme Brulee one is spectacular), cookies, muffins, twists, cakes, and meringues. There's also a large selection of sourdough loaves—the sprouted has a real nice kick to it—for which Allam mills his own flour. Everything is made from scratch, by hand, with obvious care and love.
There's also a impressively varied menu of savory dishes, including Bourke Street's signature and stellar Sausage Rolls, with a buttery, flaky exterior and stuffed with juicy, well-seasoned meat (either Lamb and Harrisa or Pork and Fennel). Definitely get both of these, and the side of house ketchup, which adds a welcome hit of acid. Croissant and sourdough sandwiches, a trio of salads, and, of course, Avocado Toast are among the other offerings, but the simple toast with butter and jam makes for a lovely snack with some coffee as well.
The dinner menu takes over from 4 to 8 p.m., with things like a Charcuterie and Housemade Cheese plate, Sourdough Bread Gnocchi, and Salmon Rillettes with pickled cabbage. Natural wines, beer, cider, and "sparkles" are available all day. There's seating for about 40, and it's all done counter-service style: order up front, and someone will find your number flag and deliver your food.
(Scott Lynch / Gothamist)
Bourke Street Bakery is located at 15 East 28th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, and is open daily from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. (917-514-4033; bourkestreetbakery.com)