Following Beatrix on social media has been terrible for my self-control and my waistline. This tiny North Melbourne cafe regularly posts a mouth-watering list of the day’s specials, from the ciabattas to their famous cakes and biscuits. Many a time my newsfeed has convinced me to veer towards North Melbourne in search of a sweet fix.
Beatrix is housed in a former 1890s butcher’s shop and is strictly for locals or knowledgeable folk – there’s no obvious sign and the part of North Melbourne where it’s located is very quiet.
The squeezy space has bench seating for about five people and a total of three tables inside, with a smattering of pavement tables under the trees of Queensberry Street.
Inside the space is dominated by an array of hanging vintage egg-beaters (beat-rix, get it?) and a cake cabinet to die for.
Owner Nat Paull makes everything from scratch, daily, from the tiny kitchen out the back using a single fire-engine red Kitchenaid mixer.
The choice is overwhelming but first I must turn my attention to lunch.
There are two regular ciabatta fillings on the blackboard menu and then two specials which rotate regularly. On my visit I ordered a Warialda Beef pastrami with dill and Nicola potato salad and carrot crisps with caraway salt. Since I was planning on eating cake I thought I’d better opt for a small ($14). Good decision as the small was still enormous! A surprisingly soft bun from Crumbs Organic Bakehouse in Ascot Vale, piled high with full-flavoured and fresh ingredients.
Time for cake. Beatrix focuses on old-fashioned items, the sort of cream-filled beauties you find at CWA stalls. The Strawberry Shag ($8.50) was layers of buttery sponge, cream and preserved strawberries covered in buttercream and coconut shaving.
I had to try another one so ordered a slice of red velvet cake (the last piece left at 1pm!). A soft red velvet sponge with a classic cream cheese frosting, not too sweet, and garnished with miniature maltesers.
Beatrix is a sweet cafe serving excellent sandwiches and cakes which are worth travelling for. Just don’t take too many people at once and leave some cake for me!