If you’re in Australia’s capital city of Canberra and looking for a great café, then look for the queue stretching down the street. Silo Bakery hits the spot. Graham Hudson and Leanne Gray’s bakery and cafe in the suburb of Kingston is non-stop busy from dawn to dusk.
The breakfasts are legendary and on Saturday mornings the queue is daunting. It’s closed on Sundays, and probably just as well. The owners and staff need the rest. Sometimes Leanne is up from 2am making bread, and every 10 days she does an all-nighter.
A strong French influence is evident in the vast array of mouth-watering pastries: snowy mountain ranges of almond croissants, rows of citrus, chocolate and chestnut, and berry tarts, shelves of crusty loaves, and balls of truffle butter. The chestnuts used in the tarts are grown locally.
Bread is produced with long, cool fermentation resulting in more complex flavours. The styles include the Silo sourdough (a light rye), Kingston sourdough (white), vollkornbrot, baguette and two Italian style breads, the casalinga and stirato.
Silo’s walk-in cheeseroom holds a collection of high-quality Australian farmhouse and imported European cheeses for sale to the public. The cheeseroom not only influences the Silo menu, but provides an inspiration for local chefs who source cheese for their restaurants here.
Hard, semi-hard, washed rind, white mould, goat, ewes’ milk and buffalo cheeses are on the menu. Australian dairies such as Tarago River, Meredith, Milawa, Pyengana and Heidi are available, as are English, Italian and Spanish producers.
Silo also has a wine list which includes: France, Italy, Spain, Marlborough/Martinborough regions of New Zealand, Clare & Eden Valleys, southern Victoria, Tasmania and the local Canberra district.
I had poached eggs with chilli jam, and roasted tomatoes on sourdough toast, and bought boxes of croissants, tarts and several loaves of bread to take home to Sydney for the family.
Slow braised European meats, tarte flamiche (a pastry with leeks and washed rind cheese) and soups dominate the winter menus, while the warmer months give rise to Mediterranean-inspired lighter food although still with strong flavours, such as Toulouse sausage with oysters. Three types of pizza are also available such as the mushroom pizza with salsa di noci and blue cheese (autumn and winter only). For a more casual lunch, antipasto, vegetable pates or cheese plates are served with bread. The lunch menu changes monthly. I’m already planning a return visit.
“People are prepared to travel a long way for bread,” says Graham. He’s not wrong.
- Breakfast 7am to 11:30 am.
- Lunch served from 11:30am to 2:30 pm weekdays and 12pm to 3pm on Saturdays.
- Silo Bakery, 36 Giles St, Kingston, Canberra.