Sydney-based travel, film and music writer, www.jasminecrittenden.net
Published May 2nd 2013
Great coffee, tasty food and second hand books in Bondi
With over 25,000 books, Campos coffee, and a creative clientele, Gertrude and Alice Café Bookstore is something of a refuge for Bohemians stranded in Sydney's Eastern suburbs.
It's not uncommon to find novelists, poets and songwriters tapping or scribbling away, especially on week days, when the trade moves at a gentler pace than it does on Bondi's famously frenetic weekends. The eclectic selection of folk, blues and jazz streaming from the CD player is easy to work to, ranging from the likes of Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell to more obscure, emerging, independent artists.
If you're stuck for ideas or need to look up a reference, there's an abundance of books on hand. Pretty much any topic you can think of receives some coverage, with the daily introduction of new stock creating a dynamic that keeps book buyers and browsers coming back for more.
Both indoor and outdoor seating is available – all wooden benches, tables and stools. There is one couch, but the fact that it's especially comfortable (the perfect place to curl up with a book) means that it's not easy to claim.
The menu offers an array of options, ranging from snacks to meals. The $9 'breakfast bowl' is particularly popular, and is good value in its combination of bircher, granola or gluten free cereal with fresh fruit, yoghurt, berries and honey. The 'wholesome winter porridge' is a similar deal, including banana, toasted almonds, jersey milk and organic honey. There's also a breaky roll for $8.50, filled with bacon, egg, cheese, spinach and homemade relish.
Lunch varies from homemade vegetarian soup ($9) to grilled haloumi salad ($15.50) to lentil stew ($14.00) or meat stew ($16.00), with a whole bunch of other options in between. The emphasis is on generous, hearty portions and a healthy, homemade taste.
For those not into coffee, the list of 'winter warmers' is pretty impressive, including 'Alice's famous chai' ($5.00), the 'lullaby nightcap' ($5.00, with malt, cinnamon, nutmeg and honey), and a variety of T2 teas. The relatively recent acquisition of a liquor licence means that they're now selling wine and beer, too.