Berkelouw Books is the largest rare, antiquaria, second hand and new bookseller in Australia stocking more than 2 million books in the country!
It was in Rotterdam, Holland, in 1812 that Solomon Berkelouw started as an itinerant religious books seller on the harbour. His trade stopped abruptly after he slipped on an iced plank of wood between the quay and a client’s boat and drowned with his jute bag full of books.
His descendants however kept the business going, opening a brick and mortar store until the war and its horrors wiped out Berkelouw’s business. This did not destroy the industrious family’s moral and after a new start they decided to avoid Europe’s political turmoil and move far, far away, to Australia.
In 1948 Isidoor Berkelouw set up shop at 38 King St, Sydney. The business grew and after changing location a few times within Sydney, the store was moved to the gorgeous landscape of the Southern Highlands, on the Bendooley Estate.
In 1994, the sixth generation, Paul, Robert and David Berkelouw, returned to Sydney and haven’t stopped opening bookstores all over Australia since.
I visited the Berkelouw book barn yesterday, for the 10th time and as every time on a gorgeous and windy day. It has changed a lot since I first came. Today, the book store has lost its first floor and the rare books have been relocated to another part of the estate. The restaurant has spread everywhere and the little café formerly located in the rotunda has been turned into a gorgeous place to eat.
Spring was blooming, the grass looked nearly fake and the trees were wearing flashy green jewels. Léonore had a ball in the garden. You can see her climb the little stone wall on the right.
Invited by my lovely mother in law Beverley, we had lunch at the restaurant and I wandered around buying 3 books (I contained myself…) and took some photos.
On a nice day such as yesterday, you can also eat on the beautiful terrasse.
The restaurant is spread around the “barn” between the book shelves and in the rotunda.
There is a lovely bar.
The view from the windows is fantastic.
I chose gnocchi with goat curd, green peas and asparagus. It was very good! I loved the softness of the gnocchi and the lovely curd.
We have to come back for a proper drink :)
Léonore had a kid’s meal which was surprisingly good, for a kid’s meal that is. It was a decent serving too.
Berkelouw Book barn is a real mix between a restaurant and a bookstore.
While you are waiting for your meal to arrive, you can browse a large choice of beautiful books.
The rare books selection has been moved to another part of the estate, you can still find second hand and old books in the main barn.
A few years ago I bought a fantastic book in French: les mémoires de la reine Hortense (Queen Hortense’s memoirs). Queen Hortense was the daughter of Josephine de Beauharnais, Napoléon’s first wife and mother of Napoléon III. She lived in a very rich and dramatic period of French history. Her memoirs are extremely interesting.
There is a large second-hand cookbooks section including books in French :)
The cookbook section is not as “enormous” as a Kinokuniya but it is quite large and the mix of old and new makes it very interesting.
This side is the “new” cookbook section.
You will recognise some great books here including from the gorgeous restaurant Honey & co, the Rachel Khoo pâté book, Kate Gibbs’ book with her grand-mother Margaret Fulton, Sharing Puglia, the Nguyen China to Vietnam book and Persiana…
I won’t launch it pro or con Jamie but I love his 15 book. I found a few recipes I make and the whole family begs for: the Sweet Chilli Chicken in a rice noodle, radish and watermelon salad. It is simply to die for. It takes more than 15 mins to make even if it is a very familiar family. I had to take my eyes of this shelf because I wanted to buy more books. At the moment, because of the recent flood in my house my books are piled on the ground, hundreds of them, and it will take months to have them back on the wall…
Upon stepping in the restaurant/bookstore, you are welcomed by this board and a very friendly and chic staff.
The landscape around this place is glorious. The Southern Highlands at their best.
This is the menu. We had the Charcuterie board and gnocchi.
On the left you can see a beautiful and very large fireplace which makes the place extremely cosy in summer.
Off with the first floor. The recent refurbishment created a wonderful volume and let the beautiful wood take over.
Amongst the bookshelves learn about the Berkelouw family’s journey from Holland to Australia.
This is one of my fav shelves: the bargains! I bought the CHIA book on the middle. It is a very tiny but rich book using this very interesting seed.
More second hand cookbooks including the very strange RECIPE FOR MURDER…
And more second hand cookery books…
And even more…
In the new section, the Blue Ducks cookbook by Darren Robertson and Mark Labrooy (REVIEW HERE) the excellent a beautiful Saha by Greg and Lucy Maalouf, the weird but fascinating Bitter by Jennifer McLagan, and many more.
Well, by now you see how many great book you can open or buy at Berkelouw’s.
Grab a few books, sit down and have a soothing read.
If you ever been to Berkelouw in Berrima, let me know what you thought of it.
NOTE: this post is not sponsored
Berrima Book Barn
3020 Old Hume Highway
Berrima NSW 2577
Mon – Sun | 9:00am – 5pm
>Rare Book Department
Mon – Fri | 8:30am – 4pm
Sat | 11.00am – 3pm