The imagery that comes to my mind when reading the word bakery is completely biased by my experience visiting these kinds of shops in the past. The first time I entered A1 Bakery, the collage of images in my brain that mostly included cupcakes, loaves of bread, and maybe croissants was challenged. I thought I knew what bakery meant but I wasn’t even close.
A1 Bakery brings a new experience to your senses. Visually you are attracted to so many things: a big fish tank on your right-hand side, to your left two flags proudly hanging from what seems to be a balcony, the Australian and Lebanese emblems almost back to back, only divided by the portrait of Charbel Makhlouf, a Lebanese saint that typically adorns houses and businesses in the West Asian country.
Your nose perceives familiar smells but their combination makes it very particular. Coffee, Middle Eastern spices, and bread come together to awaken your nose. To be honest, I can’t remember if they play any background music but I do recall listening to staff speaking what I assume is Arabic while being served.
During COVID times, the ordering process is the same as it was in the old days – you line up to get your order taken at the till. The menu offers names that for me were brand new. Zaatar, Labne and Kishik are names that become familiar when you read their last names, Pizza or Pie! I wonder if this last name was a commercial trick for us to have a better idea of what to expect.
After ordering and paying, you receive a ticket with a number which is eventually called out. Since many (if not all) of the food is made at the moment of ordering, some larger numbers are called out earlier than yours. Don’t be frustrated – maybe you ordered something that requires a more intricate preparation process.
For me, the senses of taste and touch were the ones most satisfactorily awakened. My first time at A1, I remember ordering a cheese pie and a pizza for which the bread had just been baked. You could feel it in your hands, the dough felt and tasted fresh and the flour residue gave it a rustic feeling.
After being served, I realised I ordered more food than I expected. First, I thought the pie was going to be smaller, and second because the price was very low. The pizza I ordered was named Labne and it was very exotic to my taste buds. I had never had a pizza served cold and the combination of ingredients was just very new to my mouth. I’d had olive oil, olives, mint, tomato, cucumber, and thickened yogurt before but never at the same time and never as the topping of delicious round-shaped bread.
The concept of a bakery was beautifully challenged in every sense. Today, I like understanding the concept of a bakery as a place committed to cooking bread with fresh ingredients and I thank A1 bakery for that.
I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this restaurant for Brunswick residents and not residents (within a 5km radius, remember!).