The Book Kitchen
255 Devonshire Street, Surry Hills, NSW
0420 239 469
The next best thing to eating a superb meal at home is eating a superb meal in a place that feels like home.
“The Book Kitchen is a place like your kitchen table” claim owners Amelia and David Birch, and for the past five years or so they’ve been building the community spirit around lively conversation, honest food and the odd glass of local wine or two.
The Book Kitchen first opened a decade ago and the character-filled garage type building was already a well-known Surry Hills haunt for local foodies who enjoyed a relaxed environment. With a village community made up mostly of families and couples, and lightly interspersed with a few creative agencies, galleries, law firms and interior design stores, it quickly became a local favourite and remains so: “The Book Kitchen is essentially a community café. We know all our neighbours, all our regulars, and they all know each other. It is our second home and it feels like guests may as well be dining at our kitchen table,” says Amelia.
A major renovation in early 2014 has taken the venue up a notch in the style stakes and helped it ‘come of age’, but the wall of cookbooks for sale, from which it took its name, remains.
Opening out the interior and painting it white has emphasised the height of the ceilings and they have created a richer and more contemporary feel using lots of wood, velvet banquette seating, mirrors, and touches of elegance in the copper finishes.
Within this environment, restaurant manager Amelia and head chef David use their 30 years of hospitality experience to create consistency and quality in their dishes and in their service. Having both worked in the industry since they were 15, they were sure when they married that the next step should be running their own venture together – so sure that they transferred the deposit whilst on their honeymoon!
The emphasis here is on wholesome, seasonal café food, locally sourced wherever possible. The bio-dynamic eggs come from Cornucopia in the Hunter Valley and the bread from The Bread & Butter Project, for instance.
The menu is constantly evolving but always boasts a good range of breakfasts, while some of the favourite mains appearing on both lunch and dinner menus include poached salmon salad, wagyu burger, and fritter of lentils, with red and white quinoa.
In creating strong relationships with suppliers the couple ensures that they are kept up to date with what’s available locally, without having to hunt too far and wide. They also love to showcase local produce through a series of dinners where a particular wine region, and its specialty foods, is the basis for creating the menu. These dishes include items directly sourced from the growers and producers with hand-picked boutique wines (mainly organic and bio-dynamic) complementing the food perfectly.
The passion that Amelia and David put into their business is no less than the passion they feel for their community, or the city as a whole: “Sydney has a strong heartbeat, and people are woven together by vibrancy, history and the unbelievable serenity in the natural beauty. It is all over the place and we love it!”