Bread & Circus, Alexandria

“We were the generation of dreamers”, says John Bechara, stopping for a chat while gathering plates. Reclining in stripy deck chairs, we bask in the Autumn sunshine and find ourselves engaged in a philosophical discussion while sipping organic blueberry smoothies. “We studied for the sake of learning, challenged traditions and explored the ideas of the world…”.
Riding the revolving door schedule of fast paced city living, days blend without warning into indistinctive weeks and months pass before we seem to have a chance to blink. It’s a rare treat to venture out of routine, crack a pattern and find our eyes jolted open to delights on our doorstep.

At ‘Bread & Circus’ in Alexandria, Bechara’s daughter Amanda is busy preparing food in the kitchen, laughing with customers and generally running the show (with her boyfriend and co-owner, Danny Goldstein). A trendy warehouse style canteen in a re-used brick factory, giant spoons hang on the wall, gourmet condiments line the counter and pineapples hang out with jars of homemade jam on geometrically aligned shelves. The version of the latin phrase panem et circenses is an apt reference to frivolous appeasement methods adopted by the Ancient Roman senate to distract the population from serious civic concerns. 

Artfully combining healthy, organic produce, an edgy location and eclectic d├ęcor to create a positive distraction from all concerns – civic or otherwise - Bread & Circus manages to tick all of the boxes for implied success in the discerning Inner West. A welcoming sunny space made friendlier with a cheeky music selection, a healthy menu of fresh produce that regularly changes, and creative presentation of dishes, the three month old eatery is buzzing on a Sunday afternoon.
We order the sustainable steamed barramundi sandwich box – a biodegradable box full of “fresh bright quirky organic sandwich fillings w/ freshly cut slices of sourdough & salady side things” - and a mix of unusual but delicious salads. The “sandwich” is a smorgasbord of DIY ingredients, elevating the humble concept of two slices of bread and filling to the next level. Each bite oozes health, professionally and thoughtfully executed while maintaining its rustic originality.

Easily exceeding standard expectations, the X-factor of Bread & Circus is the warmth behind the smiles, the genuine hospitality that only comes from owners passionate about their creation. With Amanda’s dad gathering plates, her boyfriend manning the counter and her mum checking on customers, Bread & Circus is a friendly oasis nestled among the industrial streets of Alexandria.

A Master of Philosophy and hailing from Lebanon, Bechara pops by again to see how we’re getting on. Already a familiar face, he regales us with tales rich with history, stokes debates over culture, and glows with pride as he speaks of his daughter’s venture. This chance encounter with John - a common feature of travelling but rare in the comfortable routine of life at home - is one of those moments where life seems to pause, a reminder that colour, depth and philosophy are ever present behind everyday interactions if one takes a moment to notice. 

From the giant bags of chickpeas lining the floor to the carefully selected tea menu (“brewed by a tea neurotic”), Bread & Circus inspires one to revert to the mindset of the traveller, unravel stories and join the generation of dreamers - at least for an afternoon. 

"When you realise how perfect everything is, you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky"
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