When you travel somewhere there is always one place that people ask if you have visited. For me when I visited Canberra last time it was Silo bakery. Inevitably it will also be the place that you fail to visit which happened to us last time as we were in Canberra on a Sunday and it was closed. But not this time as the gorgeous Gaynor from Accor made sure that I got my wish to visit Silo Bakery in Kingston which is about a 10 minute cab ride from the city centre of Canberra. It's busy of course as they do a roaring breakfast trade. The line stretches all the way down the counter this Friday morning and on Saturday it is said to stretch all the way down to the back of the 47 seater cafe.
Silo Bakery was started by Leanne Gray who is a chef by trade and Graeme Hudson a former scientist who runs the front of house. We sit down and take a look at the menu. Since it is truffle season there are two truffle based options: scrambled eggs and baked eggs with truffles. I opt for the scrambled eggs as I know that that is a great way to showcase truffles while Gaynor and Katrina order the baked eggs and Heather orders the poached eggs with chilli jam.
Sunrise juice $5.50
I start with a Sunrise juice which is freshly squeezed orange and raspberry juice which lends the fresh orange juice a gorgeous richness in flavour and colour. Gaynor starts with their hot chocolate which isn't bad although I like super rich hot chocolates. While we wait for our food we check out the cheese room which has truffle butter and a range of cheeses, French butter and chilli jam.
Fresh local truffle
The truffle butter is made of truffles that have been stabilised in butter with parsley and then rolled in ground rice to give it that unusual appearance. The Canberra truffle industry has grown and there are now about 100 truffle farmers. Interestingly here at Silo, they use New Zealand butter as Australian butter doesn't have a high enough fat content for the pastries.
Tea-how cute is the milk bottle!
We try an "Evie" which is a bread that was created by their daughter Evie when she was small and playing around with the dough. It features apple, raisins and an almond frangipane filling and it multi layered and buttery. Evie is now 19 years old and works in the bakery and we see her flit back and forth attending to the customers.
Our meals arrive shortly after and I start on my scrambled eggs ($16). And yes there is a picture missing as I was a bit flustered trying to capture everyone's meals that I clear forgot to take a picture of mine! Arrrggh!! Although you'll have to trust me in that they look like scrambled eggs with some dark truffle flecks. They are incredibly good, perfectly flavoured and really bring out the richness of the truffle while at the same time, tempering its earthiness. The bread it has to be said is worthy of all of the acclaim.
Baked eggs with cheese, celery, truffle and walnut toast $21
I try some of Katrina's baked eggs. We're both surprised as we expected them to be baked with a tomato sauce and instead it's baked in cream with a wash rind cheese although it needs a touch of seasoning.
Chilli jam, roasted tomatoes, poached eggs on bruschetta $15
I also try some of Heather's chilli jam which came with poached eggs and it is satisfyingly spicy although I didn't try the rest of her meal (manners and all that ;) ).
We get a little tour of the kitchen and meet Leanne who bakes every day. Unlike a traditional baker's hours which is baking from the early hours and leaving at 6am, she does split shifts which makes for a better life balance but also provides fresher bread. They use slow fermented yeast and never add sugar to it. The pizza bases are made using the same dough as the baguettes.
Wool basket filled with bread
Stirato $5 Potato and gruyere pie $3.50 and blueberry brioche $5.50
We know that even though we have a lot of luggage to take back with us, we can't resist and buy some goodies. I buy a Stirato bread which is soft and spongy with a floury baked outer. The bread's soft texture is ideal with the scrambled eggs and Poacher's Pantry ham that I've brought back. I buy a potato and gruyere pie for the flight back home but end up eating it at home after heating it on the oven. It's seasoned well but the potatoes are not quite fully cooked and give a little bite back. The blueberry brioche is buttery and dense.
Banana & Caramel tart $5.50 and date and ginger tart $5.50
I am undecided about the tarts so I ask the girl behind the counter which is better or more popular. "They're both different" she says which doesn't make it easier. I choose the date and ginger tart for Mr NQN and a banana and caramel one for me (ok really they're both for me, but I need to make a gesture don't I? ;) . There is also a chestnut and chocolate tart and a chocolate and pink peppercorn one. The tarts have a good base and both have nice fillings although I think transporting them back to Sydney proved to be a foolhardy idea as they didn't arrive in an ideal condition. Next time I think I'll have to stay a bit longer and eat them there.
So tell me Dear Reader, what is your favourite baked good? A croissant? Tart? Pain au chocolat?
NQN travelled to and explored Canberra as a guest of Accor Hotels and Australian Capital Tourism.
36 Giles Street, Canberra, ACT
Tel: +61 (02) 6260 6060
open tuesday to Saturday 7am-4pm
No bookings for breakfast but bookings recommended for lunch