HOT: Barry, 85 High St, Northcote

Barry, 85 High St, Northcote

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).

Barry, 85 High St, Northcote

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.

Barry, 85 High St, Northcote

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.

Barry, 85 High St, Northcote

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

M-F 7:30am-4pm

Sat-Sun 8am – 4:30pm

HOT: The Age Good Food Guide 2012 Winners!

The winners of The Age Good Food Guide 2012 Awards were announced last night. Here is the complete list of winners, some with my previous reviews – congratulations!

Vittoria Coffee Restaurant of the Year – Attica

Citibank Chef of the Year – Dan Hunter, Royal Mail Hotel

Regional Restaurant of the year – Loam

Best New Regional Restaurant – Mr Carsisi

Plumm Wine Glasses Best New Restaurant – Golden Fields

The Age Young Chef of the Year – Josh Murphy, Cumulus Inc

Champagne Louis Roederer Sommelier of the Year – Bengt Baumgartner, The European

Virgin Australia Service Excellence Award – Jason Lui, Flower Drum

Professional Excellence – Neil Perry

Dimmi Award for Innovation – TOYS Collective

Epicure Sustainability Award –  Maurice Esposito, Esposito at Toofey’s and Saint Peter’s

Donlevy Fitzpatrick Award – Gerald’s Bar

Dan Murphy’s BYO Restaurant of the Year – Osteria La Passione

Samsung Diners’ Choice Award – Cutler & Co

Vittoria Coffee Legend Award – Philippe Mouchel, PM 24

Best Short Wine List – Merricote

Regional Wine List of the Year – Lake House, Daylesford

Brown Brothers Wine List of the Year – Spice Temple

Lucky Beer Dish of the Year –  Barbecue Spare Ribs, Dandelion

The book, apps (from Samsung apps and iTunes) and goodguides.com.au website will be available from 30 August.

Here’s the list of 2011’s winners.

HOT Chat: Pip Carroll of Melbourne Bikefest

Finally we’re experiencing some warmer weather in Melbourne – and have you noticed the increased number of cyclists these days?

It all bodes well for the upcoming Melbourne Bikefest, a 5 day festival being held at 1000 £ Bend which will celebrate all things cycling related in our city. Today’s HOT Chat is with Pip Carroll, the director of Melbourne Bikefest. Thanks Pip!

Pip, tell me a bit more about your background and what inspired you to start Melbourne Bikefest?

My background is pretty varied, I’ve been running a business called Ambiguous Horse since 2006 that specialises in management, marketing and producing for the arts and cultural industries. So I’m always working on something different. Ambiguous Horse, supported by a volunteer committee produced the Melbourne Bicycle Film Festival from 2007 to 2009.

Earlier this year we decided to branch out from the BFF and create a new event designed especially for Melbourne – and Melbourne Bikefest was born!

We wanted to celebrate and support an emerging bike culture in Melbourne, one that is less focused on sport and recreation and more interested in bikes as a means of daily transport, integrated into other parts of life. The more people that choose a bike over a car, the better the road conditions will be for everyone, including motorists. For people to choose to ride however they need to identify as bike riders, and through Bikefest we hope to create something more people can see themselves being a part of.

What is Melbourne Bikefest all about? What can visitors expect to see or experience?

Melbourne Bikefest is about celebrating bikes in everyday life. This doesn’t mean that you need to ride one everyday to enjoy it though! In fact there are only one or two events in the entire program that actually requite you to be on a bike. Most of the program is devoted to other cultural activities – art, design, music, fashion, shopping, forums, workshops, and advocacy projects. Bikefest really is more of a cultural festival about bikes than a ‘cycling’ event.

The majority of our activities are held right in the middle of the city at 1000 £ Bend. We will offer Bicycle Valet Parking for anyone that rides, but it’s a very easy place to get to via public transport. Over 5 days the space will host events and activities from morning to night, all against a backdrop of art and interactive installations. Plus a bar!

At the end of the day it’s really just about having a good time and giving people a glimpse of life on two wheels.

What is your one must-do recommendation for Melbourne Bikefest?

I’m always reluctant to choose just one thing! We’ve programmed Melbourne Bikefest so that you have the opportunity to experience several different activities all in the one visit. However I would say that the Bikefest Great Debate will be a night to remember, we’ve got together some amazing local comedians to put a light hearted spin on the argument that ‘Bikes are the best form of transport’. It features Charlie Pickering, Hannah Gadsby, Bart Freebairn, Lawrence Leung, Harley Breen, Andrew McClelland and is moderated by Josh Earl.

My other recommendation, for those that like to dress up (and who doesn’t?) would be the Melbourne Tweed Ride. Leaving from the State Library steps, it’s a slow cruise in salute to times gone by. Hopefully it will help redress some of the crimes against Lycra we see all too frequently on the streets of Melbourne.

Why do you like cycling, and particularly in Melbourne?

Wow I like riding a bike for so many reasons, where do I start? First up would have to be sense of freedom I get riding. If I have a frustrating day, chained to the desk, feeling like I’m not getting anywhere, stuck in the treadmill of life, riding home just unravels all of that immobility and delivers a palpable sense of achievement.

I’m also one of those people that has subconscious punctuality sabotage syndrome – I think I can get anywhere in 20 minutes. Thankfully on a bike in Melbourne it’s mostly true.

And do I need to mention the great things it does for your butt?

Finally, what are your HOT tips for Melbourne where you like take your bike?

I like going to the Penny Farthing Espresso (206 High St, Northcote +61 3 9482 2246). It’s just up the road from my house and has a welcoming and relaxed vibe. The coffee is good, the food uncomplicated and satisfying and they always seem to be exceptionally well staffed with polite and good-looking Gen Y employees. What more could you ask for?

Down the road is The Movie Reel (69 High Street, Westgarth +61 3 9486 8866). It’s a great old school DVD hire place that’s good for a bit of eavesdropping on a Friday night. They have an amazing range. I reviewed some bike movies last year and they had every title I asked for. Plus they don’t mind if you tell them the fine belongs to your ‘housemate’.

I’m partial to popping down to the Ceres Organic Market & Shop (Cnr Roberts and Stewart Streets, Brunswick East +61 3 9389 0100) on a Saturday morning. It’s a lovely ride down along the Merri Creek and it’s great to see the chickens that have laid the eggs you’re about to eat. There’s also something very satisfying about whipping your credit card out in the open air.

Also nearby is Fowlers Flowers (488 Queens Parade, Clifton Hill +61 3 9489 9114). It’s next door to another favourite café, Mixed Business (486 Queens Parade, Clifton Hill +61 3 9486 1606). Their arrangements are simple and beautiful and inspire me to clean the house so the flowers have a more fitting backdrop.

Melbourne Bikefestt is being held from Wednesday 24 November to Sunday 28 November. CycleStyle is one of the sponsors – if you see me at any of the events or speaking on a forum, please come say hi! For more program information, click here.