With just a few frenzied days until settlement date and the countdown on, I am beginning to realise how spoiled we have been all these years to have the St Peters Bakehouse & Coffee Shop just a dash across the dog park. This week, with boxes strewn across the house and the kitchen half-packed, the bakery is, in fact, dangerously convenient.
Damian Obst took over the corner store 15 years ago and I have watched the bakehouse grow…and grow. Nowadays at midday, the queue stretches out the door and it can be difficult to find a park on Seventh Avenue. Even mid-morning there is often a hoard of hungry tradies lining up for a sausage roll and a Farmer’s Union Iced Coffee. Tucked in leafy St Peters in Adelaide’s eastern suburbs, its a great place to pause for coffee and cake on weekends, and the verandah terrace is always full with locals; prams and dogs in tow. As well as the top location, Damian says that part of the store’s popularity is the friendly staff. ‘We are like one big family and many locals in the area started their first job here.’
For me it’s the delicious products that make the bakery so attractive and most are baked on-site. I may be a biased local but I rate their meat pies as ‘the best in town’, and what’s more, they are consistently good!
A perfect meat pie has high quality meat, tasty gravy, a good shortcrust pastry case with walls that hold the meat well, and a flaky puff pastry lid. ‘The plain beef pies are my best sellers, and all of the chunky-beef pies,’ says Damian. My favourite is the plain ‘chunky beef’ but there are enticing variations such as chunky beef with mushroom, pepper or potato, which also comes in a giant family size. Also on the blackboard menu are chili, curry, chicken and pizza pies.
If you are visiting from overseas, one thing you must put on your ‘to-do list’ is to taste a really good Aussie meat pie, eaten straight out of the brown paper bag with a generous spurt of tomato sauce. With production line, industrial pies sitting in warmers around the country, tracking down a good one is not particularly easy but this address is a sure bet. (You can ride or walk along the river Torrens from the city to St Peters, taking in some native flora and bird-life along the way).
An Australian tradition, meat pies continue to be a quick, warming lunch all over the country. A ‘pie at the footy’ is almost obligatory, and pies are ever-popular on cold winter days in the schoolyard. At the tiny country school I started at, Hynam Primary, Wednesday was my favourite day because we could order lunch (yes, my world revolved around food even then). A crate was delivered from the local bakery and I still remember the excitement of eating my first ‘pie in a bag’ in the lunch shed. The first takeaway I ever had.
A couple of years later the school closed and I transferred to a bigger primary school at Naracoorte with a real canteen. Once a week my brothers and I bought our lunch: a pie and a finger bun for the grand total of 20 cents! In fact I checked with my younger brother Rob to see if this could possibly be right and he said, ‘Yep, you could buy a pie for 12 cents and a small packet of Twisties for 5 cents, and then we used to go home and put the empty Twisties packets in the oven and shrink them.’ Hmmm, no computers to amuse us back then! Rob also reminded me about chocolate Snips; frozen chocolate milk sold in a triangular prism shape. Snipping the corner was required to eat it. Without fail, it dripped all over our school clothes and we never did quite finish before the bell went. Anyway, I digress…Today, a gourmet pie is around $4 and a finger bun $2.50.
As well as pies, pasties and sausage rolls, the bakehouse makes fresh baguette sandwiches and an array of cakes, pastries and buns with an Australian flavour. ‘The vanilla slices and jelly cakes are very popular,’ says Damian.
The range varies but you will often find kitchener buns (jam and cream donuts), cherry ripe slice and lamington squares. I am particularly fond of a small slice of the moist and chunky carrot and walnut cake with fluffy cream cheese icing, which right about now, surrounded by boxes, sounds like a plan. I’ll just grab my coat.