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casual, chocolate, collingwood, restaurants and cafes, under $20

HOT: Tomboy, 356 Smith St, Collingwood

P1110414 540x268 HOT: Tomboy, 356 Smith St, Collingwood

As a person who loves eating food at any time of day, I make no real distinction between ‘breakfast food’ ‘lunch food’ and ‘dinner food’.

So I think it’s perfectly fine to eat fish tacos and a huge brownie for breakfast. And you should too if you visit Tomboy!

This handsome cafe displays one of my favourite interpretations of Melbourne’s ubiquitous ‘industrial chic’  look that I’ve encountered in recent memory.

P1110387 426x540 HOT: Tomboy, 356 Smith St, Collingwood

I love their huge, high communal table that used to be a carpenter’s workbench, complete with original vices turned convenient bag hooks. The juxtaposition of hard and soft with the addition of a tall flower arrangement in the centre of the table.

P1110400 360x540 HOT: Tomboy, 356 Smith St, Collingwood

I love the menu written on the huge dangling reel of butcher’s paper. The amazing lamps held aloft by thick metal links and heavy hooks. The vintage milk bar sign beckoning you towards the coffee and treats in the cabinet and the old school speakers set into the brickwork.

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Finally, I love their interpretation of a butcher’s apron which all the trendy, good-looking and friendly staff wear. Apparently the aprons were made by one of the owner’s mums but really I think they should sell them :–)

P1110416 344x540 HOT: Tomboy, 356 Smith St, Collingwood

Now to the food. The cafe offers an all-day breakfast/brunch/lunch menu so it contains the expected toast, muesli, eggs and then segues into the tart of the day, open sandwiches and those fish tacos.

As I’ve said, I’ve never shied away from bold flavours first thing in the morning so I’m immediately drawn to the digestive kickstart of an avocado and jalapeno puree and chipotle aioli. The tacos come out on two soft tortillas piled with fishy nuggets, the aforementioned sauces and a generous handful of red cabbage and coriander. Ignore the proffered cutlery and get into these with your hands!

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I enjoyed the fresh, fiery combination of flavours though I would have preferred more chilli in my taco. That’s a matter of personal preference though so perhaps they could offer some hot sauce (I think I spied some on the shelf) or extra dressing for those whose taste buds like more heat.

P1110410 367x540 HOT: Tomboy, 356 Smith St, Collingwood

If you come to Tomboy make sure you don’t miss out of the gluten-free brownies ($4). The cafe has been set up by the folks behind  Box Brownies and every day they bake fresh combinations (they sell out too). The huge slabs are rich without being heavy, very chocolatey without being cloying and very, very addictive. While I have been known to scoff down a whole brownie after a gym session (!) I think these baked wonders are better shared between two. Enjoy them with a coffee made with Seven Seeds blends on a Synesso machine.

P1110419 540x346 HOT: Tomboy, 356 Smith St, Collingwood

Tomboy‘s attention to detail in the decor and dining has me listing them as one of my latest neighbourhood favourites. How can you resist a window display like this??

Tomboy, 356 Smith St, Collingwood +61 3 9486 0162

Tues to Sat 7:30am–4pm
Sat 8am–4pm
Sun 9am – 4pm

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3 comments for “HOT: Tomboy, 356 Smith St, Collingwood”

  1. too condescendingly hipster
    and at least one of their slices I recognized as the recipe on the back of packets of frozen berries

    Posted by Lamont Cranston | October 24, 2012, 4:09 pm
  2. Hi, I think this place looks awesome and the food looks awesome. Took a look Box Brownies and want to order everything right away. Gluten free is also awesome! Good choice.

    Posted by Daniel | October 27, 2012, 5:30 am
  3. I agree with Lamont, it is pretty “condescendingly hipster”! The space is coolly decorated, I admit I like it, but every single customer (except me) is oh so cool. They must also be quite wealthy as well, all being in the latest clothes/haircuts/shoes and affording to eat here? It feels a little clubby.

    The food is on the pricey side, with not much on offer below $10 ($11 for the delicious but small – and no sides – mushroom burger).

    My other annoyance would be the lack of good comfortable seating. I took one of the ‘better’ spots at a table on a bench seat, back against the wall, but it wobbled with every movement of the person sitting along at the next table. My table also wobbled. I felt I was sitting amongst a stream of hipsters coming in to buy their expensive, cool takeaway, or potential diners eyeing me off for ‘taking’ one of the few tables. Maybe it’s just me, but I prefer to sit with my feet on the floor and not perched on a little stool with no bench space if I’m going to eat and enjoy lunch (I was also hopeful of reading the newspaper, but it was taken!). So I guess your experience might depend on whether you get a good spot, maybe on the communal table or a further back individual table.

    Also – serving water in jam jars? Cute, yeah, but a bit silly and feels stupid in your mouth.

    Next time I should brave the cool factor and just get a brownie to take away! They do look amazing.

    Posted by Claire | July 24, 2013, 3:55 pm

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