With rent prices reaching ‘ok now that’s just a bit dumb’ heights in neighbouring Newtown — Marrickville is now undergoing hipsterfrication(1). At the vanguard of this movement is young cafe/wine bar BeeJay’s, which is quickly becoming a hangout for all the cool cats in town.
As the sun shines, an all day breakfast is offered up. It is a slick infusion of what’s hip and what’s relevant. There’s the usual brunch bandits – eggs, bircher muesli and all the sour dough you could poke your yeast free finger at– but what gives the menu its ‘instagrammability’ is the incorporation of local flavours. The resident Middle Easterners of Marrickville get a nod with the spicy mince/eggs/yogurt combo, as do friends in the Asian community, with the inclusion of Pork Belly in the infamous Beejay’s Brekky.
The interior of Beejay’s is just as rustic and striped back as you’d hoped. Old SBS clippings cover the seating, toy cars and animals sit in the spaces between the bricks, and there’s a suspiciously obtained mural of pedestrian push buttons in the courtyard. If anything, it perhaps suffers from a bit of quirk-overload – why are their bicycles everywhere? Someone please explain. However, the atmosphere inside is chattering smiles and groovy tunes, so who’s to argue?
Beejay – whoever he is (oh yeah, probably the owner Benjamin, I can count to potato) – is also developing something of a cult following for his evening scene. While there’s a solid offering of wines and cocktails, what’s most worth crossing the tracks for is the fresh juice and spirit arrangement. Any freshly squeezed juice with any spirit. Gin, Apple Juice and Mint. (like, actual Apple Juice). For just 5 bucks! Amazeballs.
The cultural impact of Beejay’s within the Marrickville community is also worth noting. It’s perched on a corner, halfway down the hill, just before the train station. Right beside it sits a nameless grocer, and adjacent — a dubious looking ‘Mixed Business’ ; fire coal and baklava, two for one. Look further along and you’ll find Greek bakeries and Vietnamese Pho eating houses. Surrounded by such diversity, this eatery could perhaps be seen as ‘the white kid on the block’ with its smashed avo and South Australian wine list. What’s remarkable is the way it conflates with its worldly neighbours – Beejay’s has become another flavour in the Marrickville melting pot. And you know what? That’s rad. That’s something worth smiling about.
The biggest challenge Benjamin faces is yet to come. As Newtown moves into tourist territory, the creative sorts will continue to come further west — how will Beejay’s be able to maintain relevancy? Baristas talk to passer-byers. Good. The courtyard out the back catches the afternoon sun. Great. Food is well priced and consistently quick. Wonderful.
Marrickville is in the calm before the storm. The hipsters are coming, and the ominous march of their doc martins heed a warning about the stiffening of local competition – but keep an eye on Benjamin and his posse, they’re full of bright ideas.
Beejay’s Cafe/Wine Bar
395 Illawarra Road, Marrickville, NSW
Ph. (02) 9558 8860.
Coffee: Single Origin Roasters, Surry Hills