I’m usually of two minds whether to visit a cafe on their first day of trade. But when I found out that Barry was being opened by the team at award-winning Pillar of Salt I figured that they’d know what they were doing. Plus my view is that if you’re taking people’s money then you need to be on the ball with your operation from the get-go, though everyone is generally understanding of small errors.
Day 1 of trading and Barry already has the hallmarks of a successful cafe. Firstly, it was jam-packed on a Monday, to the point that there were queues out the door even though the space seats 110 people. The crowd was an eclectic mix of businessmen, hipsters, students typing on laptops, mums and bubs and even an elderly couple pushing walking frames. It’s on the corner of Barry Street and High Street, right next to Westgarth Cinema, so it will draw the cinema crowd no doubt (though it only opens till 4pm on weekdays and 4:30pm on weekends).
Secondly, the fit out is what I’d consider to be a trade mark of Melbourne’s coolest cafes – whitewashed brick, lots of wood and steel, a big-ass coffee machine (in this case, a Synesso pumping out coffee with two dedicated baristas sporting Ned Kelly beards), exposed light bulb light fixtures and even the creamy green coffee cups and saucers I’m noticing everywhere.
Thirdly, the food menu is extensive and very trendy, which may date it in 5 years time but for now is very ‘of-the-moment’. Quinoa, freekeh, kale, baked eggs, wagyu beef burgers and coconut water all make an appearance though if you want fried eggs on toast (like my neighbours) that’s ok too.
From the breakfast menu I tried fatty slices of cucumber and gin cured ocean trout with a superfood salad of crunchy freekeh, roasted cauliflower, shredded kale and punctuated by sweet pomegranate seeds, with a soft boiled egg oozing at the top for extra protein ($17.50). It was a marvellous dish with plenty of textural interest and colour combinations, not to mention very good for you.
On the less wholesome end of the breakfast spectrum was the brioche with pistachio marscapone, rose scented raspberries and halva ($15.50). While it was equally colourful with an interesting combination of textures I think it could be tweaked a little. The light and buttery brioche might have been better off a bit stale and then Frenched toasted as the juice of the raspberries soaked into the bread, making it a soggy mess if you didn’t eat it quickly enough. I also think the proportion of brioche to marscapone could be inverted, though I did love the crunchy pistachios inside the whipped cheese. And as for halva, it is my new favourite ingredient! Unadulterated sugar.
Given the reception that Barry has been given by Westgarth locals already I suspect it will do really well in the area. Despite the hectic feel of the first day I found the service to be smiling and considerate (moving tables around to accommodate kids, bringing the bill to the table so I didn’t have to haul a baby capsule to the counter) and the food, and no doubt the Seven Seeds coffee, was excellent.
Barry, 85 High St, Northcote +61 3 9481 7623
Sat-Sun 8am – 4:30pm