Silo bakery

Silo is something of a mecca for food and coffee lovers in the Canberra region, and its pastries have acquired cult status. Tucked away between restaurants and real estate agents at the Kingston Shops, the small bakery/cafe/cheese room does a bustling breakfast, lunch and coffee trade.

The unassuming frontage is easy to miss, with its discreet signage and small collection of footpath tables. No large partitions advertising coffee to hem the patrons in, instead Silo’s alfresco diners mix happily with passers-by, frequently calling out to passing friends, and enjoying the sun in front of the tiled facade and large window.

At most times of the day, the first thing to greet you when you push open Silo’s glass door is a hubbub of noise. Be prepared to stroll around the block or sit at the counter while you wait for a table to become free; I’ve even been turned away altogether. If you’re heading there for lunch a booking is a good idea, but according to their website they don’t take breakfast bookings, so be willing to try your luck. At the very least you can get a takeaway coffee and pastry.

Silo’s bakers and pastry chefs make a range of breads, pastries and tarts which daily sell out, so if you’re after a particular treat, get in early. Also available are takeaway rolls and sandwiches, an inventive breakfast menu and a European-inspired lunch menu, both of which change seasonally. As far as liquids go, Silo provides a full range of cafe beverages including coffee by local roasters Cosmorex, and has a small but carefully selected wine list. The cafe also boasts a walk-in cheese room stocked with a range of local and overseas varieties; samples can be found on the menu and they also supply other restaurants in the area.

Inside, it becomes clear that Silo’s background noise level is produced not only by the number of patrons crowded in at little tables, but also by the lack of soft furnishings. Expect polished concrete floors and cushionless chairs, but in some respects these add to the atmosphere, along with the old-fashioned light shades, and the stainless steel and marble fittings. The high ceilings of the cafe and its narrow footprint (the back section is little more than a corridor) lend it the sort of vintage charm that’s often missing in Canberra, with its post-1960s buildings.

On Saturday we were lucky enough to get a table only minutes after we’d taken a seat at the counter. While the quality of the service is a bit variable, this time we scored a friendly and attentive waitress, and water was brought to the table before we could even asked for it.

Our visit was just for a hot drink and a treat, so we abandoned the menus placed before us to stand in front of the glass-fronted marble patisserie counter, weighing our options carefully. With all the beautifully made offerings spread out before you, it’s difficult to limit yourself to just one.

Eventually I settled on a plain, buttery brioche; delicate of crumb and crisp of crust. Phil gave his order for a passionfruit and mascarpone tart, but as often happens when there’s only one or two of a particular item left, it was gone by the time he ordered. Our waitress suggested the substitution of a berry and almond tart, which I gather went down very nicely.

Not being in the mood for coffee, but feeling the need of something warm and sweet to ward off the outside chill, I ordered a hot chocolate; my first from Silo, and it was delicious—chocolatey, sweet, creamy, not too rich and with none of that terrible gritty brown powder lurking at the bottom. I discovered the new taste sensation of brioche dipped in hot chocolate, and I can strongly recommend you try it. Phil ordered a ‘large latte’ which I’m told was a little stronger than anticipated, but which was definitely quite large. Both food and drinks arrived in a timely manner and the drinks were beautifully presented.

Whether you like sourdough, pain au chocolat, pear and caramel tart, or brioche, you can’t do better than Silo in the bakery/patisserie stakes. Past experience and present popularity is proof of the quality of more substantial meals as well, and they are a dab hand with the espresso machine. Go early because the best is guaranteed to sell out. Silo is open from 10am to 4pm Tuesday to Saturday, and prices are very reasonable for the quality of food presented—we paid about $14 for two pastries and two hot drinks. Special options include vegetarian meals. Restrooms are available onsite, and there is ample on-street parking around the whole Kingston Shops area, though be prepared to pay on weekdays and Saturday mornings. Silo is located at 36 Giles Street, Kingston ACT. Rating: 4 cups.

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3 Responses to “Silo bakery”

  1. Suze Says:

    mmm … now I really want an almond croissant :)

  2. voted withourforks Says:

    I’d say getting a table on Saturday morning at Silo that quickly was nothing short of miraculous! We generally buy and run. Thanks for the review. We must make another visit soon.

    PS for Suze
    the only place in Canberra for almond croissant’s in Canberra (and so far the best I’ve tried anywhere) are from Croissant d’Or in East Row, Civic.

  3. marg Says:

    You always have a career as a restaurant reviewer ahead of you….

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