5. Gertrude & Alice
Books and food - Sydney
If you wander down the back streets of Bondi, you’ll hopefully stumble across Gertrude & Alice café and bookstore, a place which provides cosiness, character and Camus amid the increasing blandness that dominates Bondi.
Established eight years ago, Gertrude & Alice has become a second lounge for locals and visitors, drawn to an authentic atmosphere with mismatched crockery, shelves crammed with books and genuinely cool staff serving good coffee, banana bread and lasagne. At any hour, a large communal table hosts mums reading books to toddlers, writers tapping away at novels and photographers showing off their latest work.
Named after the American writer Gertrude Stein and Alice B Toklas, who set up a salon in Paris in the 1910s, owner Jane Turner says she always wanted to create a space where people could feel comfortable, creative and part of a community. Her goal has certainly been achieved: champagne corks have been popped to celebrate customers’ completed plays and a marriage between a couple who met in the café.
“We have a lot of neighbourhood support. If we have to close for the afternoon, there is public outcry,” remarks Turner, adding that the small space puts pressure on her to hunt out the most interesting books, which includes a first edition of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar.
46 Hall Street, Bondi Beachgertrudeandalice.com.au
Owner’s favourite neighbours
Funkis: Swedish furniture and clothes. The fabrics have a retro yet modern feel, and they sell fabulous clogs.
23a Curlewis Street
Sabbaba: Casual Middle Eastern café and takeaway serving some of Sydney’s best falafels, which are wrapped in fresh pita and served with great hummus and tabbouleh.
82 Hall Street
Ria Floral: Ria is a local floral artist and a well-known personality in the neighbourhood.
98 Brighton Boulevard
What we would buy
- Banana bread
- The Voice – the Story of an American Phenomena Frank Sinatra by E. J. Kahn Jr, signed by Frank Sinatra
- The Last Night of the Earth Poems by Charles Bukowski
- Corn fritters with sour cream and sweet chilli
- Limited editions of To Kill a Mockingbird