I'm in the habit of buying restaurant 'voucher' specials on the internet. Part of the fun is going on an adventure with my girlfriend to find out what sort of an establishment we end up in. Most are good but we have been to some rather ugly dodgy looking places. It's almost a private joke between us as she laughs whenever I mention I have a voucher. Today she won the fight. I was going to take her on another adventure but she insisted we go to where she wanted to take me. I fought her for it but after coming home and checking the Urbanspoon rating of the two, her 86% review won over my 74% review. The pictures of the place on their Facebook page also looked amazing so I decided to let her win as by now I could not wait to go to The Bakers Wife.
You can't miss The Bakers Wife on Burke road. The signage and the building are imposing and hard to miss. Looking in through the window from the street frontage, you are greeted by delicious looking cakes and pastries tempting you to come in. When you finally peel your eyes off the cakes and look in from the outside, the warmth of the place just beckons you inside. It did me anyway. I walked in slowly as I savoured all that lay before me and devoured the ambiance of the place with my eyes. I loved everything about it. The high ceilings, the feeling of space, the sanded back brick walls, the beautiful portraits on the wall and the many seating configurations. We chose to sit at the large centre communal table, which we found out was hand-made by the owner himself. In fact under the guidance of Dora's (the Baker's wife) good taste, Beejan was happy to labour at his restaurant to make his wife's vision of the decor come true. It took him 10 days of grinding the walls to get 'the look' it now has.
The impressive beautiful portraits (I love portraits) are by Mimby Jones, a Visual Artist, Street Muralist & Headdress Designer based in Melbourne. She also sells her art on Etsy. In the video clip included at the end of this article you will see the whole process of how the painting was created filmed in time lapse. This video was taken by Beejan and he mentions there are other videos for him to put up on You Tube when he has the time.
Large center table hand made by Beejan. Lady in the picture is my friend, so all good
The Bakers Wife opened on Thursday 12 December 2013. It wasn't very big till their expansion in August this year (2014) which made all the difference. Chatting to Dora first, then Beejan, it knocked my socks off to find out that their first eatery which opened in 1999 was called Degani (in Clifton Hill) as I knew that name well. There is a Degani in my local shopping centre. Who knew that one day I'd be talking to the people who owned the original Degani and to whom that surname belonged. Beejan is a baker with 27 years of experience under his belt. This dynamic duo obviously make magic together. They have always been in the business of food and had Beejans Bakery for 7 years, 6 of it in Kew then Degraves street in the CBD area. At one point for 2 years they owned both Degani and Beejans before they sold Degani in 2002. They also had Provence Artisan Bakers in Camberwell for 2 years, but sold it 3 years ago.
A courtyard at the back and another semi private dining area for a smaller group
Of course I had to ask what Beejan did in the 2 years between selling Provence Artisan Bakers and having The Bakers Wife a year ago. Would it surprise you to know that he worked as a commercial helicopter pilot with Ayers Rock Helicopters? Evacuations and rescue was part of his training and he's landed on Ayers Rock at least four times. To continue to hold his licence he has to keep up the flying hours, so Beejan is a regular at the Yarra Valley for lunch, flying in on his helicopter. What a treat!
Well, I didn't fly in but I got the same 'rush' from being in a lovely atmosphere at this eatery. The Avocado (smashed avocado on multigrain, Danish feta, soused cucumber and tomato and green harissa with the option to have 2 poached eggs or not) was my choice for brunch, with a side of spinach. My girlfriend got an extra hash brown added to her meal. Everything was delicious and the coffee was great. Eating in that beautiful environment didn't hurt either. I indulged in a large jug of apple, orange and carrot fresh juice after my meal but without the ginger as they had run out.
All day breakfast with gluten free options is served till the kitchen closes at 3pm. You can go for the familiar like Toast or Fruit Toast with Pepe Saya butter; or Wild Bircher (organic & gluten free grains, coconut, lemon oil, yoghurt and granny smith) and Porridge (plantain banana, cacao, and coconut nut crumble). Then there's Baked Eggs and French Toast (with the baker's own Challah) and other breakfast dishes like the Eggsparagus which is poached eggs with truffled asparagus, potato hash and hollandaise. The Baghdad has fried eggs, baba-ganoush & yoghurt, cumin, mint, lemon, sumac onions cucumber and flatbread. All this and more with sides and corn fritters. Prices range fom $6.50 to $18.
Lunch is served from 12 noon till kitchen closes at 3pm with Grain Salad, The Burger, The Kofta, The Calamari and more on the menu. Again you can order sides and they also have sandwiches and baguettes with some amazing fillings. The average price range for lunch is $18 with sandwiches and baguettes between $9 and $11. There is a good range of pastries and muffins and so on, all baked fresh on the premises.
I'll no doubt be back to eat the other tasty treats like the 'tasting plate' so I get to taste maximum variety. This 86% Urbanspoon rated eatery with a write up on The Good Food Guide is in a dry zone in Camberwell at the moment, but I was told they should have their BYO licence by the end of the year. Do 'like' their Facebook Page as they're always adding to the menu and there's a lot of beautiful food pictures to tempt your taste-buds and have you salivating for a quick trip to Camberwell and The Bakers Wife. Bon Appetit!