Thursday, 17 October 2014
Situated in the ambiguous border area between Newtown and Marrickville, the former local supermarket that is now West Juliett combines inner city taste with suburban sensibilities. A popular watering hole for breakfast, brunch and lunch, it’s the kind of place that excels at producing flawless poached eggs and grinding up its own fresh peanut butter; where there’s enough room for hipsters to share space with parents of young children who are desperate to remember what real food tastes like.
The baked goods are all stacked behind a glass counter next to the cash register by the door; a king’s bounty of cookies, muffins, brownies and other assorted confections that are designed to ensure you leave with ‘one for the road’. It’s impossible to miss and, if you have a sweet tooth, quite irresistible.
West Juliett’s Pink Salt Chocolate Chip Cookie is famed for having “more chocolate than flour.” Cafe owner John Stavropoulos claims that’s the secret behind the recipe, but I’m pretty sure the sprinkling of salt flakes might also have something to do with it – like salted caramel, chocolate with salt flakes can be devastatingly good.
The challenge that comes with appreciating a cookie that has set such high expectations is that it can be doubly disappointing. My first bite into the Pink Salt Chocolate Chip Cookie was altogether confusing: neither soft enough to be considered chewy nor hard enough to be deemed crumbly, I questioned whether it was even baked today (it was, apparently. This morning).
By the second bite, I started wondering where all the chocolate is. That’s when I realised it’s blended right into the cookie. Yes, there are chocolate chips, but they’re tiny and mostly melted through. You get the flavour, but you don’t get the satisfaction of an occasional, rippling cocoa explosion. Instead, it’s spread evenly through the coarse, buttery texture of the cookie, with occasional spikes from the salt flakes.
It’s huge, which is great. But by the third bite, I started asking “Do I really have to finish this whole thing? It’s starting to get a little bland.” And it is: the lack of refinement in the flavours and textures means that the novelty wears off fairly quickly.
Now, full disclosure: I’m a bit of a chocolate purist. I like big, whole chunks of the dark stuff, and a chocolate chip cookie that’s really just chocolate-infused dough is like a cruel joke. I appreciate that it might be enough for some people, but I was promised “more chocolate than flour” and I have a very active imagination.
So if this review is coming across as sounding disappointed, it’s because I set myself up for it. If I’d gone in blind, I’d say it’s nice and not entirely to my taste; but Cookies + Milk is just a short distance away and their Cocoa Nibs are like works of art by comparison.
Rating out of 10 (where 10 = ermahgerd this is amazeballs; 5 = meh; and 0 = I want my money back):
7 – An unconventional take on a well known formula; not nearly as much chocolate as you’d be lead to believe.
Where: West Juliett, 30 Llewellyn Street (cnr Juliett Street), Marrickville NSW 2204. It’s a solid 20-minute walk from Newtown Station. By bus, the 355, 423, L23, and 308 stop within walking distance. Local parking is readily available.
How much: $4.00 each.
About Kevvie’s Cookie Safari: People have been telling me for years that my wife’s chocolate chip cookies are the best they’ve ever eaten. It didn’t occur to me until now to test the claim. But if you’re interested, she uses a Jacques Torres recipe from the book ‘A Year in Chocolate’.