Quirk’s Grocery & DeliCafe in Redfern

Cafe of the Month
September 2002

Mod Oz Gourmet

74 Pitt St

(02) 9690 1166

Mon-Fri 7am-5pm
Sat 8am-3pm
Sun 8am-3pm

Nestled in the relaxed leafery of Redfern’s Pitt Street, Quirk’s Grocery and Cafe buzzes with the devoted patronage of gourmet food fans, most dropping by to collect scrumptuous goodies for home consumption; many settling in for tenderly brewed Illy’s Coffee and some excellent dine-in cafe feastery. Quirk’s owner, ex-Terra Planet CEO Kelvin Atkinson, is now living his personal nirvana of foodie propriety as over the years Quirks has very likely qualified itself as the “best thing in Redfern” creating a great illusion for the fans who travel from afar, the deception that Redfern is a suburb fast-pacing towards idyllic gentrification, rather than its renowned incarnation as a tragically-decayed crust of urban Sydney blight.

What hits the spot? Vegetarian and meat lasagne, moussaka, quiche, risotto muffins, egg & bacon tarts, gourmet homestyle pies, soup and fritatta – together with gourmet sandwiches on foccacia, turkish bread or sourdough baguette, lushly exotic salads, fresh fruit salads and numerous cakes, slices and cookies … plus Quirk’s own branded products made on-site by their chefs – jams, marmalade, chutneys, terrine, … or maybe breakfast delights like bircher muesli, crunchy muesli, poached fruit (again all made on the premises using fresh juices, pecan nuts, pure maple syrup and dried fruits) together with toast using sourdough bread, fruit bread, banana bread or irish soda bread – with the weekend bringing a full cooked breakfast of certified free range organic eggs, poached, scrambled or fried, bacon, mushrooms, ham and oven-roasted tomato.

But that’s not all … somehow this cosy deli-cafe breathes deep to also bring us quality cheeses and meats such as certified free range organic eggs, antipasto ingredients and olives together with seasonal items such as salmon gravalax, dips and pates …Their bread cabinet is awesome, with a range of breads and pastries from Bowen Island Bakery, Sanoma Sourdough Bakery, and Haberfield Bakery … white, wholemeal, mixed seed, fruit, walnut, gluten free, turkish, Italian style, baguettes, Danish pastries … and then there’s the grocery items: Maldon sea salt, olive oils, balsamic vinegars, coffee plungers, tea pots, specialty confectionery, unique seasonal items and pure leaf tea from very cool still-relatively-underground-suppliers Pine Tea. And the great thing is that all these items can be wrapped up for function catering – from 10 to 75 people providing a minimum of 48 hours notice – and they can meet dietary requirements … and even whip up a Christmas hamper.

A massive improvement in the already-bountiful Quirk’s range is the strong emergence of their gluten-free options – and where so many generally-available gluten-free products have failed the taste test, Quirk’s have the very finest you could wish for – gluten-free ham quiche, bacon tart, vegetarian quiche, gluten-free Deek’s Bread (marathon champion Robert De Castella’s personal brand of healthy breads) and for sweet-toothed folk there’s gluten-free rocky road, caramel slice, brownies and fruit cake. Pressed further, Kelvin reveals all their salads are gluten-free as well as their lasagnas, moussakas and risottos. And Quirk’s own jams have already won seven medals while they’ve picked up medals also for a savoury sauce and their toasted muesli.

And yet every delicacy seems to fit neatly in its space, so that Quirk’s is a tidy, spotless and beautifully ambient space, an astoundingly perfect spot to hang timelessly, its contemporary design remarkably in harmony with the turn-of-the-previous-century streetscape. No wonder local art galleries GrantPirrie (see grantpirrie.com) and Boutwell Draper recommend their visitors pop around the corner for some local “food art”. As you satisfy your stomach rumbles in fine-dining style, beware the sudden more spiritual hunger to window-shop for a nearby terrace – with Quirk’s elevating the vibe of the street, it’s likely to set you back nearly a million bucks.