As well as attracting the ‘beautiful people’, Bondi Beach is home to a large percentage of Sydney’s creative types.
Artists, writers, photographers, musos and actors all convene at this cosy second-hand bookshop and cafe (the name is a tribute to Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas) to read, write screenplays, talk shop, brainstorm and catch up.
They lounge on couches, perch at tables among the jam-packed bookshelves or dine alfresco on the street.
Chance encounters with friends and strangers are the norm. The result is a lively atmosphere bursting with intellectual and creative energy. The coffee also helps – a sensational blend expertly brewed by the cafe’s down-to-earth staff. Meals are fresh, healthy and generous.
Recommended are the corn-fritter stack on baby spinach with avocado or bacon, the grilled haloumi and roast kumara salad with lentils and greens, and the filling Moroccan lentil stew with yoghurt and bread.
Given that there are over 25 000 titles to entice you, it’s almost impossible to leave Gertrude & Alice (G & A) without a volume in hand.
Thanks to book expert Jane Turner, who haunts Sydney’s garage sales and auctions as well as shipping in books from the US, you may find treasures like a first edition of ‘The Bell Jar’ by Sylvia Plath, an autobiography of Frank Sinatra signed by the man himself, or a limited edition of ‘The Last Night on Earth’, signed by Charles Bukowski.
G & A is the kind of cafe where, whether you come alone or with a friend, you will linger to people-watch, browse or have another soy chai. And, whether you’re a professional artiste or a dabbler, you’re bound to be hit by a passing flash of inspiration.
46 Hall St, Bondi Beach
(02) 9130 5155
Open Mon–Sun 7.30am–9.30pm