In Short: Excellence with both coffee and food. Great vibe with attentive service. Cocooned against the noise of King St, it’s a cool little retreat in Newtown.
With bulbous lamps, an eighties soundtrack pumping away, and silver fans turning with vigour, we take a seat at the communal table, one of two at Brewtown. If you have not heard of Brewtown you have to be living under a rock as it’s taken Sydney’s café scene by storm ever since it opened in 2013. Don’t believe me, then rock up on Saturday or Sunday and check out the lines of hungry folk out the front awaiting a prized seat. The irony is, you could walk straight past O’Connell St, enchanted by the kaleidoscope of culture and colour of Newtown, and miss it. A bar spans the length of the café and the characteristics of the old warehouse have been maintained with exposed bricks and concrete floors.
Brewtown combines great coffee with a menu that is a mix between the classics and the cutting edge. Brewtown are also known for their cronuts, or should I saw Brewnuts, which are not only a centrepiece here, but are on display in glass showcases in cafés across Sydney.
The folks are serious about their coffee with two baristas, one whose task is to deliver exceptional milk based coffees, and a second barista who looks after the filter coffees and the steampunk machine. I try a flat white which hits the spot. Love the chocolate flavours that come through. There is a nice strength which revives me after a big morning run. Temperature is perfect, as is the nice little creamy top.
On first inspection, the fish burger surprises with its boldness. Huge puffy tempura globs of calamari, with the squid ink giving a matte black colour, is dramatic. It’s definitely a fish burger like no other I have seen. Generous amounts of roe provide a burst of orange colour which starkly contrasts the squid. Tucking into it, I was rewarded with a sweet and soft calamari that was just perfectly cooked. The tempura batter is crispy and almost flaky. With a drizzle of lime, there’s an amazing balance of flavours. Saltiness from the roe perfectly seasons the dish. It’s a memorable fish burger and one I will be telling folks to go try!
With the heat of the day at its zenith, I decide to try a cold brew. A single origin geisha from Panama. It’s a silky, rich liquid with notes of red currant and toffee. I love the smoky flavour too, and served over ice it’s ultimately refreshing. The serving size is generous and is worth savouring over a nice conversation.
On a previous visit to Brewtown the crab and scrambled eggs had sold out and so on this visit, I just had go try it. I wasn’t disappointed and understand why it sells out. The just-cooked scrambled eggs are soft, buttery and creamy and every forkful is filled with crab. The crab is just sublime with salty flavours of the sea and sweet meat of the crab. The chunks of crab are generous too! Fresh chilli adds a tingle of heat. I love how perfectly seasoned the dish is, and two slices of sourdough complete the perfect lunch.
I had seen a steampunk machine over at The Rabbit Hole and it produced a great tea, through its immersion process, so I had to see how a steampunk coffee would go. I love the cheeky card that comes with the Ecuador Tumbabiro. It starts with a forward from “Julian Assange” lamenting how coffee production has been about quantity over quality as the country competes with high volume farms in Peru. Luckily, there are a few smaller producers who are bucking the trend and producing coffee like the Tumbabiro which is grown at high altitude. There is a nice balance between acidity reminiscent of apples, blackcurrant and spice of cinnamon and the sweetness of malt and honey. Presented in a Hario jug, it’s a complex brew that just begs to keep coming back for a top up.
Brewtown excels on all fronts, and deserves the crowds of Sydneysiders that invade the space 7 days a week. I love their originality and attention to detail. When the barista came up to tell me he was re-making my coffee from the steampunk because he wasn’t happy with the first extraction, that level of service is just so welcoming! Definitely one of Sydney’s best!