Gertrude & Alice Cafe Bookstore
If Bondi could ever be accused of having a soul, it’s here in this narrow cafe, where the bibliophile is as revered as the barista. Pick up the latest Christos Tsiolkas, or an out-of-print Christina Stead, and settle in with your astringent single shot espresso ($3.30), a Campos blend with cinnamon and bitter chocolate notes. It’s a home-away-from-home for freewheeling Bondi freelancers tapping away on laptops, or holding ‘meetings’ over blueberry bagels. With books for all ages it’s also an after-school favourite. Hippy mums order Alice’s famous soy chai ($5.20) one of a plethora of organic teas and paninis crammed with roast veg for the littlies.
The Shop & Wine Bar
If the Shop & Wine Bar was a couple it would be Kylie Minogue and Michael Hutchence. By day it’s Kylie: cute, compact and full of bircher muesli and quinoa salad wholesomeness. By night it’s Michael: the slouchy, worn leather banquette, flocked vintage wallpaper and liquor bottles on the counter lending a glam rock’n’roll air. Now in its second decade, this cafe-by-day-wine-bar-by-night has well outlasted that star coupling. Its longevity is at least partly due to the Di Gabriel coffee ($3.50-$4), a smooth, strong blend with fruity blueberry notes. Watch in awe as staff cook, wait, wash up and pull endless shots from a beach towel-sized workspace.
The decorating principle, all salvo army finds and vintage cups’n’saucers, must be no post-1950s item allowed. It’s like visiting your kooky but broke friend who’s just left home. The low-fi philosophy means no wifi, cash only and no fancy new brews. Just honest flat whites ($3.50) with honey aromas and caramel notes, or short blacks balancing bitterness and sweetness as expertly as a Bondi yogi mid tree pose. Owner Jima bakes all her own breads and pastries, including a rightfully raved-about almond croissant. Fancifully-named food (Bollywood Romance salad?) are quirky breaths of fresh foodie fare: try ‘om’ lette (sic) with coconut, turmeric and coriander.
Enmore is a long way from Warsaw and Israel via Egypt, but that’s roughly the Shenkin Kitchen’s provenance. You can read the full story online, or you could just order from the well-travelled menu, which includes home-made falafels and burekas, and a sweet cabinet that’s pure mittel Europe. To a backdrop of jauntily strung fairy lights and soothing 50s tunes filling the room, Shenkin’s baristas coax caffeine magic from their La Marzocco espresso machine and Mecca’s dark horse blend. A fruity and full-flavoured piccolo latte ($3.50) makes a smooth contrast to the rustic fit-out, all recycled timber benches and exposed bricks.