HOT: Patch Cafe, Studio 9, 2 Bendigo Street, Richmond

patch cafe

Patch Cafe in Richmond is a newish operation that serves a paleo-inspired, clean eating menu. Before you pooh-pooh the idea their food managed to entice someone like me, who is definitely not grain-free, sugar-free and fat-free. 

I was invited to try out their menu and took myself off to the old Channel Nine building in Richmond.

patch cafe

It’s been transformed into slick apartments with the cafe at the bottom level along with huge expanses of outdoor space.

patch cafe

Indoors it’s long and narrow, intimate and cosy. I recommend sitting at the back of the cafe, even though it faces the (fancy) sink, as it captures the most light from the huge windows.

patch cafe

As I’m not a coffee drinker (beans are from Code Black Coffee) I start with a huggable mug of creamy but dairy-free Anushka soy chai ($4.50) that’s warming and fragrant on a freezing wet day.

patch cafe

Even though it’s technically still breakfast I head straight for a serve of confit pork belly with apple puree, roasted root vegetables, paleo jus and crackling. The large plate is a very reasonable $23 and an excellent, fancy version of essentially meat and three veg. I have no idea what paleo jus is but if pork belly for breakfast equals clean eating, sign me up!

patch cafe

We also try the banana and almond hotcakes, with house made pistachio and cacao ice cream, paleo caramel and kiwi chunks ($10). I love how the hotcakes have a chunk of banana, gooey and caramelised, right in the centre. As they are made from almond meal they are more crumbly than a traditional flour-based pancake but the accompaniments balance out the dryness.

patch cafe

The raw desserts are made by Jayde Hwang, a blogger who also manages to find time as Patch’s marketing person. They are decadent and delicious and it’s amazing that they don’t contain sugar. I recommend the ‘blueberry cheescake’ and like many raw desserts you only need a little to feel satisfied.

If you’re on the go or heading to the park by the Yarra Patch Cafe offer ‘Patch Boxes’, take away meals for only $15 that are paleo inspired plus gluten, dairy, sugar and grain free. I like their chunky, nutty, satisfying bircher which contains activated hazelnuts and almonds, goji, apricots, pumpkin seeds, coconut, chia seeds, vanilla bean and orange, poached fig, coconut yoghurt and coconut nectar. Phew that’s a dozen ingredients I don’t have to bother combining (or activating huh) at home!

Patch Cafe shows that it’s possible to provide healthy food that’s tasty and anything but parsimonious. The stylish space is restful and peaceful, making a lovely stop for body and soul.


 

 

Patch Cafe, Studio 9, 2 Bendigo Street, Richmond (03) 9029 0328

Mon-Fri 7-4pm

Sat-Sun 8-4pm

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HOT: Square and Compass, 222 Clarendon St, East Melbourne

square and compass cafe

Square and Compass in East Melbourne was recently crowned as one of Melbourne’s best new cafes and it’s the combined work of owners with links to Pillar of Salt, Touchwood and Barry.

Square and Compass stands alone on Clarendon Street inside a red brick terrace house, surrounded by residences, offices, health services and hospital blocks. Since its opening it’s been a drawcard for East Melbourne locals and workers bereft of good eateries at the northern end of Fitzroy Gardens.

square and compass cafe

The cafe is bright and welcoming and at 8am on a Sunday it’s already filling up. It’s too cold to hang out at the chic courtyard at the back but come summer I’m sure it’ll be popular.

square and compass cafe

The all day menu includes cafe standards with a twist and over several visits I’ve tried…

square and compass cafe

… the five grain porridge, with a ribbon of sweet apple puree creaminess punctuated by a crunchy crumble. It’s sort of like mixing an apple pie into your oats! However, I’d prefer fresh fruit to dehydrated fruit – stretchy, leathery dried fruit has never been my thing. ($13.50).

square and compass cafe

…the waffles, a gorgeous berry and flower-strewn palette atop some fluffy waffles. I like the addition of brandy snaps jutting out of the vanilla-flecked cream ($16.50).

square and compass cafe

peanut butter, heirloom tomatoes and toasted peanuts on toast ($13). The combination sounds weird but the menu says ‘trust us’ – so I do. It does work surprisingly well. The peanut butter is not particularly sweet and the savoury nuttiness balances out the tangy juicy tomatoes. I’m surprised it’s not on more cafe menus because now I’ve tried it once it seems like an entirely appropriate sandwich combination.

They serve coffee by Seven Seeds and Promised Land, Chai Boy chai and Mork hot chocolate. 

square and compass cafe

The service is friendly at Square and Compass and it makes a great pit stop if you’re heading to Fitzroy Garden. If you want to take away a picnic I highly recommend their gourmet rolls, particularly the pork belly with crackling (all $10), and maybe grab a decadent Doughboys Doughnuts as well.


Square and Compass, 222 Clarendon St, East Melbourne (03) 9416 4914

Mon to Fri 7:00 am – 4:00 pm

Sat to Sun 8:00 am – 4:00 pm

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HOT: Darling Street Espresso, 146 Athol St, Moonee Ponds

darling street espresso

I just love it when old milk bars are transformed into community spaces of a different kind – a welcoming local cafe. And so the story goes with Darling Street Espresso, a 7-day a week daytime operation that inhabits a corner position on Darling Street and Athol Street in suburban Moonee Ponds.

Despite its quiet location, away from the main strip of Union Road,  it’s actually a prime position for a  local. It’s down the road from a school and just a hop skip and jump to Maribyrnong Park and the river.

darling street espresso

The interior is cosy, with a front room and steps leading to a red and tightly squeezed back room.

darling street espresso

A better bet is the side corridor (marked ‘For prams and pets’) that leads an undercover courtyard with narrow garden beds and a small Astroturf play area for kids.

darling st espresso

 

darling st espresso

The all day menu is rather eclectic, with Italian, American, Mexican dishes all jumbled in – so you can have a cheeseburger or tacos for breakfast if you choose! Coffee is made with Fitzroy’s Industry Beans.

darling st espresso

Breakfast runs all day and I ordered beetroot-tinged cured salmon, two poached eggs resting atop two potato and preserved lemon pancakes and avocado puree ($16). The mini pancakes were an interesting twist on a traditional breakfast dish though I couldn’t detect much citrus in them.

darling st espresso

To test out their sweet breakfast options I ordered the grilled banana bread. For $14.50 you get two slices of soft banana bread, a puddle of activated chia and quince pudding and lots of crunchy paleo granola.

 

darling st espresso

To finish I couldn’t resist one of their puddings ($9). The dark chocolate pudding came with frozen honey custard and chocolate popcorn. It was a bit too sickly sweet for my liking and the messy presentation wasn’t terribly appealing. I think the custard would be better off being churned into ice-cream for textural and visual appeal.

The service at  Darling Street Espresso was very friendly and helpful and I liked how they had a buzzer at the entry of the courtyard to call out a waiter if necessary. While the inside of the cafe is cosy and beautifully decorated, the outside courtyard is where to hang out.

Darling Street Espresso, 146 Athol St, Moonee Ponds

Monday – Sunday 8am-4pm

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HOT: The Green at St Columbs, 5 St Columbs St, Hawthorn

the green at st columbs

The Green at St Columbs is a social enterprise cafe set amongst the unique church grounds and a stone church hall of St Columbs Anglican Church in Hawthorn.

The cafe is a project of Jesuit Social Services’ Ignite program. The program provides training, support and employment pathways to long term unemployed, young or old, through teaching them hospitality skills. The social enterprise also run small operations (without a full kitchen) at Hawthorn Library and Camberwell Library. On each table there is a bottle with a small scroll revealing the positive stories of some of the participants in the program.

The Green at St Columbs

A lot of thought has gone into the operation, including in the sourcing of produce. Many ingredients are sourced from The Yard, Jesuit Social Services’ garden project nearby and raised garden beds on site also overflow with herbs and vegetables. To the extent possible items are made or grown on site, from the house baked ciabatta to the jams filling the doughnuts. Anything else has been sourced from local farmers and producers. They are committed to operating a closed loop system to manage their resources and to work towards a zero-waste operation.

The Green at St Columbs

The charming two-room fitout has been designed by Brunswick’s ZWEI Interiors (of Code Black Coffee BrunswickCode Black Howard St and Wide Open Road fame) and the coffee beans similarly come from Code Black. A small gas fireplace and overhead heaters warm the high ceilings during winter and seating is in the form of long communal tables and smaller two-person tables.

The Green at St Columbs

A stunning chandelier overlooks the coffee station.

the green at st columns

The seasonal menu has all day breakfast options – a roll call of bread, grains and eggs – and larger meals which are also available all day. So if you want you can have Nonna’s Lasagne for breakfast!

The Green at St Columbs

I order ‘Morock the Kasbah’ a wholesome warm salad with generous chunks of slow cooked Moroccan lamb shoulder tossed with a mass of greenery, quinoa, lentils, chickpeas and hummus ($16.80). It is so substantial that I almost bypass the cake cabinet…but it is so enticing.

The Green at St Columbs

I decide on a fig and almond tart as the fig jam is made on premises. The tart is crumbly and moist, with a smear of not-to-sweet jam filling in the middle.

The Green at St Columbs

The mission of Jesuit Social Services is to help work towards a just society. The Green at St Columbs is one way they aim to achieve that goal. The cafe is a welcoming place for people to come together and they’re welcoming of families, they source and use their produce in a way that cares for the natural environment and the training program enables people to realise their potential and to contribute to the community.

Visit The Green at St Columbs to enjoy great food, good coffee and a warm fuzzy feeling that you’re helping others.

The Green at St Columbs, 5 St Columbs St, Hawthorn, 9819 0890

Tue-Sun 8-3pm

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HOT: Giddyup Mule, 177 Stephen St, Yarraville

giddyup mule

Giddyup Mule is Yarraville’s latest cafe opening. It’s part of the growing trend in serving healthy, raw, organic, paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free food that’s permeating through Melbourne’s cafe scene -perhaps as a reaction to the opposing trend of burgers, fried chicken and doughnuts!

giddyup mulegiddyup mule

Giddyup Mule takes over the space that used to be a more simple coffee bar at Art of Cycling, an indoor spin training studio. It’s a little hard to find as the doorway and signage is hidden behind a street umbrella, so just look out for the Art of Cycling sign.

giddyup mule

The two young owners and westie locals Magarethe and Jodie have built a new kitchen, store room and brought their own spin (pun intended) on the space, with a roaring wood heater, a paint job and a kicking (pun intended again) menu of interesting dishes.

giddyup mule

The drinks list includes Axil coffee, Mofo hot chocolate, silky Chai Walli chai made with milk (or soy) and honey, a range from Tea Tonic, juices, smoothies and kombucha on tap by Grateful Harvest.

giddyup mule

The kombucha is freshly brewed in Melbourne and the ginger and tumeric is tangy and fresh ($5). I’m told the orange is sweeter if you’re not familiar with the fermented taste of kombucha.

giddyup mule

I try the pulled pork cigars with apple and walnut salad and smoky sauce ($18.50). It’s a decadent dish with melting strips of pork rolled up in a fried parcel – can’t really go wrong! The crunchy apples and nuts provide a textural and flavour contrast to the meat.

giddyup mule

The bircher muesli is a wild palette of colourful elements and totally delicious, especially the coconut yoghurt which they infuse with acai and berries. It’s good value for money at $12 as you won’t be able to fit in much else afterwards.

giddyup mule

You can’t go past a cafe menu these days without seeing smashed avo and this version comes with house-marinated feta and smoked cherry tomatoes ($16.50). It’s a generous tumble of vibrant freshness and the kombucha vinaigrette adds an interesting tangy twist to an otherwise ubiquitous menu item.

giddyup mule

For dessert there is a selection of organic raw desserts by Torquay’s Life Seeeds. I am in love with raw desserts at the moment as it seems like a healthier way to indulge my sweet tooth. The salted caramel joy bar ($7.50) contains ‘Aztec superfoods’ but all you need to know is that it’s decadent and rich.

giddyup mule

Giddyup Mule is a fun, friendly and healthy addition to the inner west cafe scene. If you’re a bike rider / gym-goer it’s even more convenient, with Art of Cycling spin classes, DCPT personal training and group fitness and Western Velo Works bike repairs in the same building.

giddyup mule

giddyup mule

Plus if you need an early caffeine hit they’re open 6:30am on weekdays!

giddyup mule

Giddyup Mule 177 Stephen St, Yarraville 0405 788 253

Mon – Fri 6.30am to 4om

Sat 7- 4pm

Sun 8-4pm

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HOT: Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

Saluminsti is an Italian-style warehouse cafe in North Melbourne, hidden at the intersection of two cobblestone laneways.

Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

Saluminsti is a labour of love for Frank, one of the co-owners, despite being a pop up for only 12 months (at this stage) as it sits at the back of the building that’s slated to be turned into apartments.

Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

Frank fitted out the warehouse kitchen, storage and dining space all himself and he’s passionate about the food at Saluminsti. It has an authentic honesty about it and it turns out that all of the recipes on the simple menu are from Frank’s family. He wanted to bring to diners the sort of food that he grew up with and he’s taken these traditional dishes and given them a modern twist. My Italian companion remarked on how many of the dishes she also remembered from her childhood.

Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

Currently the menu has three ciabatta options – a melt-in-the-mouth free range porchetta stuffed with artichoke paste, rocket and shaved pecorino ($12), a cotoletta just like nonna’s with a vincotto mayo, Italian coleslaw and provolone ($12) and a slightly spicy pork and fennel sausage with roasted peperonata and pecorino ($11).

Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

The ciabatta is quite remarkable – pillowy and soft and not so crusty it hurts your mouth. Frank wouldn’t divulge his secret supplier but did wax lyrical about the 36 hour proven dough and stone-baked bread.

Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

The smallgoods hanging in the fridge are currently for show only – until they’re cooked they can’t be sold. It’s worth ordering the Salsiccia ciabatta just so you can try the pork and fennel sausage. Later the plan is to retail and wholesale the salumi and to run sausage-making and salami-making classes.

Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

We accompanied our sandwiches with a cup of patate fritte, crispy chips zhuzhed up with fresh herbs and reggiano ($5).

Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

The coffee is made with Italy’s favourite Lavazza and the cafetiere is a bargain – a traditional Neapolitan-style 2 cup with a syrupy crema on the bottom could easily satisfy 3 or 4 people and it comes with some sweet biscotti on the side for only $5.

Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

Finally, try the sugar encrusted bomboloni, made fresh every day on site. These are Italian-style doughnuts so a bit denser than the standard American-style doughnut, but still very light.

Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

Both the Nutella and slightly citrus crema paticcera are delicious.

Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

Saluminsti is a small Italian gem hidden in North Melbourne, a place brimming with enthusiasm and passion while serving up some authentic, old school Italian goodness. Buon appetito!

Saluminsti, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne 0413 082 253

Tue-Sun 7:30am-4pm

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HOT: Code Black Howard Street, 119 Howard St, North Melbourne

code black north melbourne

Code Black Coffee is a cafe and specialty coffee roaster in Brunswick who have opened up a second outpost in Howard Street North Melbourne.

Like the original location the Code Black Howard Street roasts its own coffee but the roasting machine is really more for decorative purposes as most of the coffee is still roasted in Brunswick.

code black north melbourne

The new cafe is a gorgeous light-filled warehouse conversion by  ZWEI Interiors Architecture, The bricks have been painted white punctuated by lacquered green steel beams and blonde wood abounds. I particularly love the slatted staircase.

code black coffee north melbourne

Seating encircles the barista station and open kitchen and a mezzanine level upstairs, though I’d avoid the awkward mini tables at the banquette unless you’re up for holding yoga side twists during your meal.

The food menu has a similar quirkiness as the Brunswick menu and takes inspiration from the fact that the space used to be an old car garage. I’ve explored some of the options over several visits.

code black north melbourne

Black beans with jalapeno cornbread ($12) was a punchy dish of spiced beans, a fried egg and a spongy, cake-like slice of cornbread. I opted for a side of pork belly ($4), a thick cut of belly cooked a little too dry for my liking. Overall I would have liked to up the ante on the chilli – just felt like a dash of hot sauce would have really enhanced the flavours.

code black north melbourne

For something lighter the seared tuna salad is ah-mazing ($17). Super-fresh slices of herb-crusted rare tuna with a wholesome mount of cucumber, snow pea tendrils and bok choy plus grains of millet and chia for crunch.

code black north melbourne

If you have a sweet tooth I recommend the apple salted caramel hotcakes ($14). Ricotta makes the hotcakes very light and inside you’ll find shreds of apple. It’s served with salted caramel sauce, crunchy candied pecans and slices of freeze dried apple.

Code Black Howard Street is a extension, not a duplication of Code Black Coffee in Brunswick. I actually prefer its lighter, brighter interior to the original location, while the food and coffee as just as spot on.

Code Black Howard Street, 119 Howard St, North Melbourne

Mon-Sun 7am-5pm

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HOT: Rudimentary, 16-20 Leeds St, Footscray

rudimentary cafe

Rudimentary is the most exciting addition to Footscray’s burgeoning cafe scene – because it’s going to the closest cafe to my house! And it’s kid-friendly! And bike-friendly! And the food is great!

I am four !!!! excited.

rudimentary cafe

The new cafe is set on an expansive corner block bordering Leeds Street and my regular bike route on Donald Street. Despite its proximity to bustling Little Saigon market it’s a quiet, lovely space, a garden oasis in the middle of concrete downtown Footscray.

rudimentary footscray

The owner Des, an architect by training, has taken a decrepit carpark, dandied up four shipping containers, laid out turf and set out raised garden beds that will provide the kitchen with fresh fruit, veges and herbs.

rudimentary footscray

There are multiple bike racks and a coffee window that acts as a bike-through (or pram-through).

rudimentary cafe

rudimentary cafe

The interior decor is just as pleasing, with a neutral palette of white, beige, cream, and wood and delicate filament lights suspended from the ceiling.

rudimentary cafe

A shiny La Marzocco churns out Small Batch coffee and the kitchen is open for all to see.

My pick of the seating is the big communal table surrounded by comfortable padded vintage swivel chairs. Or maybe on a sunny day one of the window benches, watching the passing parade of ever-changing Footscray.

rudimentary cafe

The menu provides all-day breakfast options and lunch dishes from 11am. I choose one of Des’ favourite dishes, braised pork belly with crispy pig’s ear, chilli and tamarind and fried eggs ($17). The dish is substantial and would be a fantastic hangover cure, with meat falling off the bone, crunchy crackling and twisted ear-y bits topped with a punchy sauce.

rudimentary cafe

I then try one of the sweet breakfast options, a red rice pudding with whipped coconut, mango and ginger crumble ($14.5). This is a sensational dish of melting rice grains with just a touch of bite. The creaminess well punctuated by the fine crumble and the mango lends the dish just the right amount of sweetness.

If you don’t want to eat a whole sweet dish then the coffee counter offers housemade goodies supplemented with sweets from Cobb Lane in Yarraville.

rudimentary footscray

Not being a coffee drinker I ordered a chai instead ($4), a delightfully creamy concoction with gentle spice notes on the nose. After testing many chair blends the barista decided to make her own and Rudimentary‘s cup is certainly one of the better examples of an often watery and bland drink.

Des is hoping to make Rudimentary a community hub and I hope that it succeeds. Certainly I’m excited that it’s going to be my new local.

Rudimentary, 16-20 Leeds St, Footscray

Mon-Fri 7am-4pm

Sat-Sun 8am – 4pm 

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HOT: Woven, 175B Stephen St, Yarraville

woven cafe

Woven is a small cafe at the bottom of a newish warehouse conversion in Yarraville.

woven cafe

It feels like Collingwood without the high prices and cooler-than-thou attitude. They have fitted out the compact space with wood, brick, polished concrete and exposed beams, in keeping with its formerly industrial heritage. There are a few outdoor seats with umbrellas too.

woven cafe

The menu is small but interesting. I choose the tofu and kale gratin with a lemon, herb and toasted nut crust ($14) which sounded smugly healthy and an apt pitstop for those visiting Art of Cycling next door. I enjoyed the umami flavours of the gratin but found the texture a bit dry overall. I think a gooey poached egg on top would balance out all that crunchiness better.

woven cafe

RM decided on the Dr Marty’s Crumpets with honeyed mascarpone, pear and toasted walnuts ($13). I didn’t have a chance to try the crumpets as RM ate them too fast – so I suppose they were good! He informed me that the crumpets were toasted just right such that the wet ingredients didn’t make them soggy and the flavour combination wasn’t too sweet despite first appearances.

woven cafe

From 10am you can start digging into the lunch menu – salads ($14-$16), a ‘bang up burger’ with chips ($18.50) and sandwiches ($10). The kids menu was one of the cheapest I’ve seen in a while at $5.50 per item.

Woven is a small, neat space on a quiet residential street which will cater to the locals well. The menu is about $3-4 less than I’d expect for the quality of the food and coffee comes from specialty roaster Code Black Coffee in Brunswick.

Woven, 175B Stephen St, Yarraville 

Every day 7am – 4pm

Woven Cafe on Urbanspoon

HOT: Green Park, 815 Nicholson Street, Carlton North

SONY DSC

Green Park in Carlton North has made a fresh start of one of my former regular haunts in Melbourne, St Ali North. It’s just as great as before with a few new touches.

green park melbourne

The big windows facing out onto the Capital City trail bike path and the adjacent playground have been retained and are so relaxing on a sunny day (they have a strip of outdoor heaters too). Inside is a light-filled inside area now daubed in a calming shade of sea green (natch).

green park melbourne

New in the Green Park decor is a long leather banquette along one wall with a hip-height wall separating the seating area with the main thoroughfare.  There’s a raised communal table and more seating options have been inserted in the bar area, with stools and cosy booths for singles or groups.

Green park melbourne

One of the owners Jesse Gerner is the man behind Bomba and Anada so the daytime menu has a few Spanish flourishes before moving into more Spanish influences in the evening.

The daytime menu is split between ‘grains’ – granola, porridge and bready items – egg-dominated breakfast dishes and substantial lunch mains from 11-3pm. I went for the scotch egg with black pudding, rosemary glazed bacon and brioche ($20).

green park melbourne

This was a very filling dish and I’m sure will gain a reputation for being a hangover cure. If you’re wondering whether the black pudding is (as I did) it’s actually encasing the egg! The thick cut bacon was a hefty, sticky piece of porky goodness so the light mint, parsley, radish and capers salad was a welcome relief from the richness.

green park melbourne

green park melbourne

green park melbourne

For sweets head straight to the pastry cabinet, with all the pastries made in house by ex-Vue de Monde head pastry chef Gadi Assayag. They have actually started a wholesale pastry business on site called Park Street Pastries and supply their sweets to other cafes in Melbourne such as Kettle Black, Stagger Lee’s and Top Paddock. I highly recommend their cheesecake ‘sandwich’ with raspberry sugar and lemon curd.

green park melbourne

I got a preview of the dinner menu at the cafe’s launch and some highlights included the kingfish ceviche with dabs of avocado and the heat provided by chipotle and jalapeno. It doesn’t look like much on the plate but the combination of delicate textures and flavours with the crunchy tortilla strips and tongue-sizzling chilli was an exciting combination.

green park melbourne

My second favourite dish was a perfectly pan-fried crispy local snapper with a surprisingly delectable base of stewed zucchini, two words I’d previous thought should never be used together.

green park melbourne

green park melbourne

Oh yes, and don’t miss the vegetable sides!  Crunchy fried chat potatoes lolling in garlic butter and colourful, flavoursome heirloom carrots, full of beta-carotene goodness to help you see the jazz musicians playing by the resident piano ‘Fats’.

green park melbourne

It’s early days but Green Park has all the makings of a lively, friendly, neighbourhood hub where you can grab a coffee or settle in for a Sunday session with free jazz on the resident piano ‘Fats’. My only quibble with my experience on the second day of opening was that the separated main central corridor meant that waiters would walk up and down serving customers but not necessarily look sideways (to the banquettes) and I had a little bit of trouble catching people’s eye. Hopefully they’ll iron out these small issues as Green Park settles into its new digs.

Green Park, 815 Nicholson Street, Carlton North (03) 9380 5455

Daily 7am–11pm

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