Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Flour, Caringbah South review

Locals are lining up to see the doughroom at this theatrical bakery in Sydney’s south.

Lenny Ann Low

There is no phone or standard website at freshly opened cafe and bakery Flour in
Caringbah South.

But stand on the footpath (newly layed under its owners Abbey Cadell and Jimmy
Cameron’s direction) and watch people arrive with the fervour of bees, swarming on a vanilla and spiced rum canele, or an Iced VoVo finger bun ribboned with toasted coconut buttercream and house-made raspberry jam, as displayed on the counter.

Ponder loaded utes rolling up to spill tradies asking in their best polite voice if the beef, caramelised onion and red pepper sausage rolls are still available.

Saffron and vanilla scroll.
Saffron and vanilla scroll.Rhett Wyman

Or the pork, fennel and apple ones? Or the chicken, leek and sweetcorn pies?

All ages, with prams, walking sticks, wild geometric sunglasses and small sticky fingers sit beside wide timber-framed bi-fold and awning windows to catch
the breeze while hoeing into individual burnt Basque cheesecakes. Or twirl-edged saffron and vanilla scrolls each sprinkled with tiny sugary rocks.

Word of mouth, and a suburb rejoicing in Flour’s range of bread and baked goods, all made on-site, brings a ceaseless line of customers.

And, Cadell and Cameron, formerly business partners at Grind Espresso in Cronulla, know almost all of them by name.

“We have some amazing customers,” Cameron says. “They always love to have a
chat.”

Every second person gives them a “hoi”, some discussing their quilting projects, others the garden while the pair work the floor or behind the counter.

The cafe, formerly a corner store where Cadell and Cameron used to buy lollies as children, is filled with people talking. Or, if they’re solo, reading from the rack of daily newspapers, watching the world outside or staring into the doughroom (more on that later).

A writer, who comes in daily and has a window spot beside a specially installed USB powerpoint, taps on a laptop while Cameron brings him regular beverages.
No one is staring at their phone.

Green and gold zucchini foccacia with charred corn, lemon ricotta, pine nuts and basil.
Green and gold zucchini foccacia with charred corn, lemon ricotta, pine nuts and basil.Rhett Wyman

All, at some point, have stared at Flour’s dazzling pastries, loaves and baguettes,
their effulgently layered zucchini, sweetcorn and lemon ricotta foccacia, their stracciatella-filled foccacia sandwiches, their golden quiches and breakfast buns, the latter tall with bacon, egg crepe, hash brown, cheese and smoky tomato relish, and sighed, “Yes, please.”

The menu – seasonal, made fresh each day and usually all gone by closing time –
is devised between executive chef Josh Davidson, formerly of Apollo and Margan,
baker Nathan Martin, formerly Humble, Brasserie Bread, The Grounds and Sonoma and pastry chefs Emily Demetriou and Patrik Svab, both ex-Flour & Stone.

Along with Cadell, Cameron and Flour’s floor staff, everyone working here lives locally.

Flour’s full name is Flour Coffee and Doughroom, the last word describing the glass-walled, temperature-controlled kitchen space, framed by rolling pins, sacks of flour, wide counters and a stack of cling-wrapped butter slabs.

Pavlova danish.
Pavlova danish.Rhett Wyman

At the right time of day, you can watch baker Martin shaping sourdough baguettes and loaves for the oven or Demetriou and Svab rolling, layering
and weaving apple crumble galettes, pain au chocolat, vanilla and spiced rum canele or gluten-free lemon polenta cakes with whipped coconut and passionfruit icing.

“It’s a bit theatrical,” Cadell says. “We didn’t want to do a cafe where it’s just four walls and a heap of seats. We wanted to open things up and show what we’re doing. It’s like our honesty system. We’re proving to you that we actually make all of this here.”

Cameron says the doughroom, in which baker’s assistant and cardamon roll aficionado Hannah Bacon can be seen experimenting today, is particularly interesting for children.

“It’s hands and noses pressed to the glass,” he says. “We’re spraying it clean every day.”

Four years ago, when Cadell and Cameron left their former business, Grind in Cronulla, they moved into real estate and teaching respectively. But the pull of running a cafe, along with living minutes away, called loud.

“It’s hard work,” Cadell says. “It’s relentless. But it’s so rewarding. People love coming in and talking with us and we’re excited to keep offering them beautiful food every day. We missed all of that.”

The low-down

Vibe: Sunny, buttery-hued cafe in a handsomely reworked corner store, with exultant baked goods, good strong coffee and a spirited community feel.

Go-to dish: Spiced sweet potato danish with Bulgarian feta, chickpeas, pepitas and sage

Average cost for two: $50, plus drinks

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