Actually we'd stupidly already eaten before getting here so we settled on simply sharing an A1 Special pizza ($6), which was basically the medium-sized vegetarian option with-the-lot. I'll warrant that you won't see a more mouth-watering pizza anywhere, whether it be Lebanese or of any other origin. As Lebanese pizzas go, A1's delicious bread base was thickly smeared with a truly aromatic za'atar spice paste (oil, thyme, oregano, sumac, roasted sesame seeds and salt) on which was layered tomato slices, spinach leaves, seeded black olives and a deliciously crumbly feta. A loose sprinkling of mozzarella before toasting under the grill and there you have it. One word...yum. We almost went back for a second one and only the queue discouraged us from over indulging. So we contented ourselves with finishing our tall glasses of spiced herbal teas ($2.50) instead.
A1 bakery and store comprises mainly of its Middle Eastern groceries section which divides the bakery and hot food counter located at the back of the shop, from the cafe located out front. This sit-down section has a few tables spread along the glass frontage and was the perfect place to bask in some sporadic sunlight with our pizza and teas. The delightfully friendly service afforded by the busy A1 staff certainly added to its charm. Many customers ordered food for take-away but if eating-in was the choice, you'll be given a number and food brought to your table when ready. As far as ambience goes you're basically eating in a grocery store but with it's busy somewhat domestic atmosphere and fascinating stacks of merchandise, we found it a great stopover for a quick (second) Sunday lunch.
Food: 4 spots - Quick, tasty savoury meals of Lebanese breads and fillings.
Service: 3 spots - Casual and friendly.
Value: 4.5 spots - Great value for both quality and quantity.
R-Factor: 4 spots - Now I just need to quickly use up these spices for an excuse to return.
Spot Score: 16/20
A1 Bakery & Middle Eastern Food Store
643-645 Sydney Road, Brunswick, VIC.
Tuesday, 14 August 2007
A1 Pizza! - A1 Bakery and Store
In the middle of yet another patchy grey Melbourne Sunday afternoon, KB and I popped into the Middle Eastern quarter of Sydney Road to hunt for some exotic spices and ingredients (inspired by our recent Lebanese feast). In contrast to Saturdays or the weekdays it was relatively quiet and we had no problems getting a park right at the epicentre of interesting shopfronts, and only a few doors away from our primary destination at A1 bakery and store. We had a look around the grocery aisles at A1 and managed to find what we needed and a few other interesting Middle Eastern tidbits besides, but we couldn't really leave without grabbing something to eat at the bakery counter. Unlike the street outside this was as busy as ever, with a line of hungry customers ordering or waiting for their food. Fellow food bloggers have raved about the quality and great value of the Lebanese breads, pizzas and pies here, so there's nothing much we can add except agree with no reservations whatsoever!