This time last year it seemed that Smith Street was the place to open a cafe or restaurant. Funky eateries launched one after the other and the punters flocked to the slowly gentrifying grunginess.
This year it seems that maybe it’s Brunswick Street’s turn, with two new openings within a short space of each other and apparently more on the way. Last week I visited Eat Drink Man Woman and this week I popped into Slowpoke Espresso.
Slowpoke is a small cafe nestled between the slightly creepy looking The Magic Lantern toy shop and St Mary’s House of Welcome. It’s a cute and cozy space with just the right amount of industrial chic (in the form of rough hewn recycled wooden planks forming the feature wall, shelving and the counter top) to make it right at home in Fitzroy.
It’s only been open a short while but already it seems to be a bustling favourite with the locals. A rainy weekday lunch hour didn’t deter people from coming, creating a shortage of seats in the bright front room and a snaking queue of youngsters gazed up at the blackboard menu on their way to placing their coffee order.
The blackboard menu at Slowpoke says that they use organic and sustainable produce wherever possible. The menu is short and sweet and one of the most popular items (other than the huge bowl of the soup of the day) is the pide with smashed eggs, jamon, housemade mayo and chilli jam and sprigs of parsley. The salty jamon paired nicely with the slight spiciness of the chilli jam and the creaminess of the broken up eggs. Could smashed eggs be the new smashed avocado? I think so. Their chilli jam is homemade and showcased in the built-in shelf and it’s a testament to the cafe’s new popularity that two weeks ago that whole shelf was full.
I accompanied my sandwich with a pot of steaming chai ($4), a perfect shield for the wintery onslaught outside. To go, a square of chocolate brownie ($3.50) which was nicely moist though not quite reaching the death-by-chocolate gooeyness that I like.
Slowpoke is the cafe equivalent of a thick cable-knit jumper and a hot toddy by the fire – warm, welcoming and a nice place to while away a rainy afternoon.