85A Bay Road, Waverton, NSW
The Grumpy Baker is a small chain of artisan bakeries with a handful of locations scattered across Sydney. They specialise in a range of sourdough breads, but also have a small selection of sweets and savoury pastries. On recent expeditions in the car with my dog to our favourite dog park, we’ve driven past the Waverton shop each time, and for some time I thought I must try it. Then one day after the dog had had enough exercise we walked up the hill to check it out, buying a loaf of delicious bread and a couple of sweet slices for dessert that evening. I also noted a pie oven on the counter, with several delicious looking labels, but no pies as it was close to closing time. I vowed to return one day in good time to sample the hot savouries.
The Waverton shop is within a long walk of home, so one day while at home alone I took to the streets to get some exercise, climbing up and down the numerous hills of the North Sydney area. The exercise was well needed, because the end goal was The Grumpy Baker and an appointment with that pie oven for lunch. I planned to get a sausage roll and a pie, but when I arrived and saw the size of the pies and rolls, I quickly recalibrated and settled for just one sausage roll. The label said it was a “sausage roll with caramelised onions and dates”. And it looked huge. Plenty for a meal all by itself. I took the roll on the sky blue china plate and sought a seat at a table out the front, next to a large group of retiree-aged cyclists, who had stopped for a coffee break. As I sat down, one of the staff came out and chided the cyclists for rearranging the outdoor tables, pointing out a line on the footpath beyond which the cafe was not legally authorised to place furniture. The cyclists pushed the extra table in a bit, but the staff lady insisted they pull it completely inside the legal boundary.
Turning from this amusing diversion, I took time to inspect the sausage roll. It looks amazing and juicy, a very generously stuffed pillow of golden pastry. Hot caramelised juices are spilling out of the thick and meaty filling, spelling over the lip of pastry to form a slowly welling pool on the plate. The pastry looks wonderful – rich, golden, buttery, and flaky, browned to a rich deep gloss shine on top. The filling is rich meaty brown colour.
It’s a little tricky to pick up because it’s hot, and the pastry slips around a bit on the juicy filling. I rest the bottom on the plate as I take a bite. The filling is coarsely minced beef, retaining a good chunk of solid meaty texture, tempered with pockets of sweetness from the onions and dates, and the whole is very rich and juicy. The pastry is crisp and flaky on top but a little soggy from the juices of the filling underneath, and a bit loose like a sleeping bag rather than a glove. There are some tiny flecks of green herbs but not much herbaceousness evident in the flavour, which is predominantly meaty, punctuated by the areas of sweet onion and dates.
This is delicious! Tasty, good texture, nice pastry, and extremely generous – one roll is plenty for an entire meal. The only negative is that all the juice from the filling makes the pastry a bit loose and slippery on the bottom side. But overall a top notch sausage roll. I must go back another time and try the pies.
Sausage roll with caramelised onions and dates: 9/10