I had my eye on this bakery/cafe before it even opened. I’m a Pyrmont resident and take a keen interest in everything that’s going on in my hood. I would walk past each day as the fit-out of the once empty storefront was taking place and wondered what would emerge. When the doors finally opened, I couldn’t have been happier with what I saw.
I love spending time in my neighbourhood, but 12 months ago it was seriously lacking in good cafes. I often made my way over to Surry Hills for my daily coffee fix but always hoped something would soon open closer and so it did, Pioik, which means bread in Coptic Egyptian.
I met Shady and Rose, the gorgeous couple who own Pioik, on day one. Shady is master baker and chef, while Rose runs the front of house and pumps out the fabulous coffees. They both struck me as very welcoming, friendly people and a look over the artisanal treats they had on display for the day left me with little doubt about this new offering becoming a roaring success. A quick discussion with Shady also revealed he had quite the background having previously worked with Stefano Manfredi for many years, along with doing a stint at Kitchen by Mike and doing further studies in his craft overseas… a mere overview of the many things he’s achieved, talented chap.
The menu at Pioik has continued to evolve since it first opened and includes delights such as sourdoughs and specialty breads, street food from their native Egypt, pizzas, assorted biscuits and cakes some of which change daily, gourmet pies (osso buco with polenta anyone?!) and an abundance of other delicious things all made fresh each day by Shady and his kitchen crew.
And for the intolerant types, which is why you’re reading this after all! The offering was not big initially but it is growing and what is available is definitely worth going out of your way for. There is a melt in your mouth pistachio and rosewater meringue (amazing!), along with a luscious gluten-free almond and orange cake for the gluten and dairy intolerant. The latter is not strictly dairy free however can easily be converted by giving the quinelle that sits on top to your cafe companion. Gluten free breads can be made to order with two days notice and a number of the lunchtime soups and salads are also gluten, dairy, egg and nut free so checking the daily specials board is a must. There are breakfast specials too and one of my favourites is the spiced scrambled eggs. There is no milk included in the mix and they can be cooked in olive oil instead of butter making them a great gluten, dairy and nut free breakfast option. Also suitable for our Paleo friends! The dish does have a little tomato in there so best ask for this to be removed if you are histamine intolerant, and these lovely folk will be more than happy to oblige. There are plenty more specials to choose from and they change often so be sure to look out for them.
For the histamine intolerant, nothing is strictly low histamine but as particular irritants affect people in different ways avoiding trigger foods will be a very personal thing. A number of the breakfast and lunch specials can be ordered with a few ingredient changes so you only need to ask Shady or Rose what each menu item contains as they will happily talk you through it changing ingredients where possible.
The most exciting addition of late has been their stocking of Inside Out almond milk as an alternative to soy milk for coffees, hurrah! I certainly didn’t need any more reasons to love this place, but they’ve given me one! I will discuss my love of cafes using alternate milks in more depth in another post but suffice to say soy can be a major, and very nasty irritant, so the inclusion of another option at your favourite cafe when you’re also intolerant to dairy is music to the ears. And what of the coffee while we’re on the topic? It’s divine, thanks to the lovely Rose who makes a perfect brew every single time. They serve Espresso di Manfredi at Pioik, which is a coffee I adore. Coffee has become a very complex thing in Sydney of late with numerous cafes now also roasting their own beans and creating specialty blends that I can’t say I like an awful lot. I am a lover of the old style Italian coffee that is smooth and rich in flavour, and Espresso di Manfredi is definitely one of those.
From time to time Shady and Rose also run cooking classes followed by dinner of an evening after they’ve shut shop for the day. I did one towards the end of last year and loved it! It was a bread and pizza making workshop because much as I don’t eat the glutinous variety myself, I do make them for others at times. I walked away with much knowledge and a few hints and tips on how to make my gluten-free baking more successful, because quite frankly….baking is not my top skill in the kitchen. With a bit of pre-warning on the foods I had to avoid I was easily catered for at the dinner that followed too so next time you stop by have a look at their class list and sign yourself up! Not all the classes revolve around bread so no fear, there will be something that can be adapted to suit all intolerances I’m sure.
Pioik is right at the top of my list of cherished cafes in Sydney. It has been open for nearly 12 months now and in that time I have become a regular fixture there. I love nothing more than gazing out the big windows while sitting at one of the communal tables enjoying a coffee, treat or lunchtime special. It is a beautiful space in which to sit and pass the time, Shady and Rose are two of the loveliest people you’re ever going to meet and I am always met with a smile and a chat, which brightens my day enormously. Everything that comes out of that kitchen is made with lots of love so if you haven’t been, put it on your list!
176-178 Harris Street, Pyrmont
(02) 9660 0343
Mon 7:00 am – 11 am
Tue to Fri 7:00 am – 3:00 pm
Sat and Sun 7:30 am – 1:00 pm