In Short: Spacious cafe right with a menu that draws on fresh produce. Service is friendly, and coffee that is made with love and care.
Marsden Park is steaming towards becoming ‘home depot central’ with a sprawling home hub taking shape. Besides housing a massive Ikea and Bunnings Warehouse, there are also a host of home improvement, furniture, and electronics stores. And, if that’s not enough, Costco’s foundations are firmly in place, and should be springing up soon.
If homewares are not your thing, then maybe the fact that a Lindt Chocolate Factory outlet is there as well to sate your chocolate craving, is a reason to visit! When you are tired after all the homewares and chocolate shopping, and just craving a good coffee or a good feed, you can now retreat to The Baristas’ Shed café. Newly opened in December 2016, it is the first café to move into The Home Hub at Marsden Park.
The first thing that strikes you when you enter the café is the nice clean deco, with the use of bricks in the front counter, and a glass cabinet showcasing the day’s dessert and sandwich specials. The other main feature that we love is the giant blackboard hanging on the wall, with the café’s menu written on it, ‘blinged’ with a red, almost neon, light that imbues The Baristas’ Shed with a very modern and trendy vibe. In talking with owner and barista Matt Hargreaves, he has drawn inspiration from other north-west Sydney stalwarts, like The Tuckshop and The Baron, and added his own touch in the fit-out.
Matt, together with head Chef Chevy McGrath, is striving to bring quality food and coffee into the area. The focus is on working with producers who can provided quality and fresh produce, and a good relationship with their roaster, Grand Cru, to deliver enticing coffee.
One of the must-try items at The Barista’s Shed is their Granola Bowl, which consists of seasonal fruits, chia seeds, toasted coconut, and berry compote. I was expecting the standard plum and peach, which are in season, but was totally surprised when I saw dragon fruit and star fruit gracing my bowl! Paired with the crunchy granola, tanginess from the natural yoghurt, and herbaceous flavours from the basil, the bowl was also beautifully dressed with edible flowers. The entire granola bowl was just guilt-free, delicious, clean and fresh on the palate.
For those seeking a meatier affair, the Philly Cheese Steak turns out to be an inspired choice. Based on the name of the dish, I was expecting a piece of proper steak, sandwiched with slices of melted cheese in between. But, what I got was a sandwich that was stuffed with slow-cooked beef cheeks, cooked for hours so that it resembled more a pulled-beef sandwich. Smothered in onion and red beetroot, with slices of pickles on the side, I could not get over the rich, deep flavours of the dish that had an unmistakable ‘umami-ness’ to it. A casual chat with Chef Chevy revealed that one of the special, secret ingredients added to the beef cheeks stew is none other than…Vegemite! That’s when I get where the umami flavour came from! And, I have to say, it’s a genius touch which totally elevates the beef from being a regular stew to a stew that is out of this world. In another twist factor, you may be asking, ‘where is the cheese?’, as there aren’t any visible cheese slices in the sandwich. But, when you bite into the pulled beef cheeks filling, you get the subtle, teasing hint that a cheese sauce has been incorporated in the cooking process as a unique way to add that cheesy flavour. I like this dish a lot; it plays with my senses without compromising the flavours and tastiness of the dish.
The coffee was excellent, befitting the name of the cafe, with the Flat White made using Grand Cru beans. Matt has a great working relationship with the team at Grand Cru, and it results in a coffee that has a touch of acidity, with a delicious chocolate finish. It probably helps as well that he is no stranger to the coffee industry, having had years of work experience in the hospitality industry and big name cafe’s, like The Grounds of Alexandria, on his resume.
If there is dessert to be had, Coco & Vine will always find room for it, and the recommended
dessert from us is The Baristas’ Shed’s Golden Gaytime cake. The dark chocolate dome, with a sprinkle of nuts on top, looks deceptively normal, until you crack open the top to reveal a lovely, decadent honeycomb mousse, sitting on a thin chocolatey cake base. We were sharing the dessert; little Coco & Viner Sammi was just attacking the chocolate dome pieces, I was going for the honeycomb mousse, and Sacha went for the chocolate base – making this the perfect dessert for us!
We are glad that The Baristas’ Shed is in the area. While inevitably you can grab a coffee around Ikea, or the other shopping areas in Marsden Park, a speciality cafe with good coffee , and an approach to providing quality food using fresh produce, is definitely a place we would support, and come back to again and again.