There’s something timeless and elemental about bread.
To me, it’s a given. So, I find it strange that a food item which dates back to the Stone Age, the most widely consumed food in the world whose very name itself denotes staple nourishment, should ever have been out of favour.
But it has been. Until now.
Enter The Paddock.
Carbs are back.
In our house, white bread disappeared long ago. We’ll only buy a handcrafted loaf: light rye sourdough, spelt blend, fruit loaf (read fig and date) or polenta… We’re a fussy lot who seek out the best bakeries on our travels: Jackman & McRoss, Harvest, Bourke Street Bakery, and of course Jocelyn’s Provisions. Sourcing quality bread on the coast has been a mission; a few bakers have come and gone, and we have come to depend on artisan bakers who sell at the weekly Farmers’ Markets.
The Paddock gives us the option of buying great bread every day, plus more… Opening with the employment of a Bourke St baker, as well as the expertise of veteran baker Jesse Downes, it was obvious that the owners were serious about quality. The Paddock has their own Alan Scott wood-fired oven and, as we found out, they are making fabulous bread.
In a suburban rejuvenation, Ursula and Ben Watts, together with friends and fellow tradesmen, transformed an 80-year-old weatherboard house into a shining new bakery. The restaurant is an airy, light space with seating both inside and around the house in the spacious yard.
“It’s a project of passion,” Ursula tells me.
The reuse of antique pieces as decor, such an original Queensland Rail table, the intricate timber laminate counter from the Milton Bowling Alley, like props on a stage, remind us that nothing about this bakery is new; in fact it’s very old indeed!
An old butcher’s block from Mackay, vegetable drying racks imported from France (used to stack bread behind the counter), bags of flour and antique scales subtly add to the authenticity of a country bakery. ‘Remember,’ they whisper, ‘that from the beginning of time we have reaped grain, ground it to make flour for bread, which was cooked over fire. From the farmer to the artisan craftsman, this food on our table comes from the sweat of labour.’
Fittingly, the wood-fired oven forms the blazing heart of this house. It’s on display, with the rest of the working bakery behind floor to ceiling glass. Together with the garden dividing the restaurant and car park, it’s an obvious embodiment of farm-to-table dining.
The oven is also the key to The Paddock’s evolving menu. Using carefully sourced local produce – Byron Berkshire bacon, Nimbin Valley cheese, organic labna, Pepe Saya butter, free range eggs, as well as house-made sauces, it’s bread which forms the central core of the menu. Dishes such as Bacon and egg roll, Rustic Avo on Sourdough, Beef Diggity (a top-end hot dog) through to the ever-popular Dippy Eggs (Egg and soldiers to me), are pushed out from the kitchen. Freshly baked cakes, wood-fired sourdough loaves, bowls of salad and fresh juices are also for sale.
The Paddock ticks all the boxes – grounded, concept-driven, whole food, environmentally friendly, good coffee (Single Origin Coffee Roasters)… The menu has evolved since opening, staff have come and gone, the service has picked up, with a horse float coffee servery added at the front to help cope with demand. Judging by the line up out the door into the yard, The Paddock’s achieved cult status! Locals have moved back to this ‘farm in the ‘burbs’, taken it into their hearts, eager for the authentic, rustic fare and artisan bread which is the specialty of The Paddock’s kitchen.
As they did for the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes, the crowds are lining up. “Give us this day our daily bread.”
20 Hibiscus Haven, Burleigh Heads Open: Mon – Sun 6.30am – 2.00pm
Enjoyed reading about The Paddock Bakery?
READ ABOUT Ursula & Ben Watts’ other venue Bam Bam Bakehouse.
NOTE: This is an edited version of the review first posted in February 2014. This review has also been published on Blank Gold Coast.