Lemon, Middle and Orange

25-31 Rokeby Street, Collingwood, Victoria

Sitting pretty: Lemon, Middle and Orange cafe.
Sitting pretty: Lemon, Middle and Orange cafe. Photo: Ken Irwin

Kylie Northover

WHERE AND WHAT

As the action gradually moves east of Smith Street, some of Collingwood's industrial blocks are slowly being reinvented - design studios are as common now as the back-street car detailers and textile factories. But food-wise, it has been pretty much bain marie fare and the odd bakery between Wellington and Hoddle streets.

Colonising a long, narrow space in a former paint factory that now houses John Wardle architects above and the Spacecraft studios next door, Lemon, Middle and Orange is already bustling; especially at the weekend, when this area is, well, dead.

Egg, bacon, onion and tomato pastries.
Egg, bacon, onion and tomato pastries. Photo: Ken Irwin

Open from breakfast through to late lunch, it's owned by Margaret Lawless and her partner, Liam Ganley, Irish expats lending their heritage to a modern Australian menu. Their traditional Irish soda bread already looks set to become a signature dish.

WHERE TO SIT

The minimal fitout is courtesy of John Wardle architects. It features upturned paint cans for stools (a nod to the building's heritage, as is the name, derived from an old sign Lawless found during the renovation, referencing the chrome pigments used for the paint) and wooden benches, along with a large foyer fronting on to Rokeby Street. Here there are more stools and tiny tables, and a sort of bus shelter-chic waiting area for takeaway orders. The colour palette of the untreated block walls and the concrete floor are clean and soothing.

DRINK

There's no liquor licence yet, but Lawless has decided to apply for one. For now there's Espresso Syndicate coffee and a single origin from Clark Street Roasters, a range of teas from Storm In A Teacup (including ''100 per cent Irish tea''), hot chocolate, soft drinks and freshly squeezed orange juice.

EAT

You can go simple with sourdough or fennel, orange and raisin loaf for $7 or lemon-infused local yoghurt with fruit and toasted grains for $12, or step things up with smoked sweetcorn and quinoa porridge served with confit mushrooms, soft egg and croutons ($15). Less healthy, but decidedly delicious, is the coconut and vanilla rice pudding, baked stuffed apple with lemon syrup and anise toffee ($13).

Lunch is served from noon and features a selection of sandwiches (such as confit chicken, apple slaw, pickled celery, walnut and raisin pesto) from $12 to $14, and a small menu of dishes from the kitchen like the corned beef hash with mustard piccalilli puree, kohlrabi sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and bagel wafer ($16.90) and succulently roasted chicken salad served with root vegies, pearl barley and tossed almonds ($16). You would be hard pressed to spend more than $25 on your lunch here, and the serves are generous.

Cakes come from local caterer Little Bertha in Abbotsford, handmade using local organic ingredients.

WHO'S THERE

During the week it's packed with local workers from the surrounding architecture firms, design studios and ad agencies.

On the weekend a mix of locals (and, given it's only week four, food bloggers), and Irish expats who come for the soda bread and black pudding.

WHY BOTHER

The fresh, local ingredients and the soda bread, baked daily in-house, which, if they can keep up with the already high demand, is available to take away.

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25-31 Rokeby Street, Collingwood, Victoria

  • Cuisine - Modern Australian
  • Owners - Margaret Lawless and Liam Ganley
  • Opening Hours - Monday to Friday, 7.30am-3.30pm; Saturday 8am-3pm; Sunday 9am-3pm.
  • Author - Kylie Northover
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