Saturday, 23 February 2013

Gertrude & Alice Bookstore Café

Gertrude & Alice Bookstore Café – 46 Hall St, Bondi Beach 2026

I prefer a French Earl Grey, thanks
Gertrude & Alice Bookstore Café is found on Hall St, Bondi, just far down the road from the hustle and bustle of Bondi Beach. This café-come-second-hand-bookstore is a book nerd’s paradise. Books fill every available space here: they line the walls from floor to ceiling, are stacked in long lines on tables, and pile up in corners, waiting to be read. This dedication to the literary arts is no surprise: Gertrude & Alice is named after the infamous literary figures and Sapphic lovers, Gertrude Stein and Alice B Toklas.

Corridors of books
I went to Gertrude & Alice on a sunny Saturday for lunch with my old school friends, Simone and Kate. I chose Gertrude & Alice as I had been there last year, and had been blown away by the atmosphere, the food and the tea. We got to Gertrude & Alice quite early, at around 11.45am, in order to grab a good seat. Gertrude & Alice is relatively big, however the seating is quite limited. There is no dedicated dining area, which makes the whole experience aesthetically pleasing and a lot of fun, but it really limits where, and how many people can eat in. We were lucky enough to grab a table right at the very back of the store, near the Australian history section (a secret passion of mine).

Good variety of teas
There is no table service at Gertrude & Alice, so we took turns wandering down to the counter at the front of the store and ordering our food and drink. I chose the Moroccan Lentil Stew and a French Earl Grey. Simone and Kate each got salads and Turkish Apple tisanes. Gertrude & Alice has a good selection of teas, with about 10 on offer. The teas are T2, which is a good brand, however I do worry about the inclusion of artificial flavours in their blends. Nevertheless, T2 is a great step up from supermarket brands, and shows the increasing importance of more luxury teas to consumers in cafés.

Pretty cups and saucers, not such a pretty teapot
Our food and teas came fairly quickly, and I was especially impressed with the presentation of the teas. The tea is served in gorgeous vintage-style mismatched teacups and saucers. I got a pretty white and blue patterned teacup with a plain white saucer, while Kate was served a lovely rose printed gold-rimmed set. The teapots were, however, a bit of a letdown. They were of the stock-standard silver metal variety, and did not match the character of the shop, or the quirkiness of the teacups and saucers. I would have much preferred a china teapot, or at least a more interesting metal pot.

So pretty!
My tea tasted exactly how a T2 French Earl Grey should taste. This is a lovely relaxing tea, with a delicate citrus base and hints of bergamot coming through. It also has a nice sweetness to it; it defiantly does not need sugar added to it.. My tea was a good strength; the barista (tearista?) had used the right amount of tealeaves for the size of my teapot. I got around 2-3 cups of tea from the pot, which was a good amount. My tea also maintained its flavour throughout the pot; it did not become unbearably strong towards the end. Simone and Kate were also happy with their tisanes.

Overall, Gertrude & Alice is a lovely café-come-bookstore. It is warm and inviting, and I could happily spend many hours here. The food is amazing, and my French Earl Grey was perfect. If it was my local café, I’d be at Gertrude & Alice every weekend, but as it is not, I have to be satisfied with my occasional trips there.

Pot of tea for $4.50

Tea: 8/10
T2 tea. Loose leaf, not a teabag. Good strength and flavour.

Pot: 5/10
An average silver metal teapot. Did not fit with the character of the café.

Ambience etc: 7/10
Great for bookworms and foodies alike. Very warm and inviting. Can be difficult to grab a table, and be prepared to share with others on a busy day.

Overall score: 20/30

MissTea xoxo

Find them:
(02) 9130 5155
Open 7 days

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