Mister Close

246 Bourke St, Melbourne, VIC

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  • 9654 7778

Dani Valent

Mixed salad plate from Mister Close.
Photo: Ken Irwin

Warmer weather and salads go together like tomato and basil, jockeys and silks, city lunches and disappointment. Well, the latter combination isn't really that hard to avoid, especially at Mister Close, a newish addition to Midtown Plaza, bang in the centre of the city.

A large display fridge fronts the main arcade approach to the cafe. It's pretty much a stoplight for the hungry, full of sandwiches, curries, tarts, stews and large bowls of salad. All of it is colourful and interesting, none of it looks like yesterday's sad leftovers. That makes sense: much of the menu changes daily. You might luck on to gado gado salad with snow peas and broccolini; brown rice salad with pistachio, pomegranate seeds, and red, green and yellow capsicum; or a ''see ya later winter'' winner with banana peppers, peas and spinach.

These are salads spiked with a burst of sunshine, all zesty and zoomy and cheerful. Order a mixed salad and you get a big bowl on a smart wooden board with a slice of Dench multigrain and a little bowl of vinaigrette. It's classy and large: take your leftovers back to the office in a guilt-free biodegradable container.

The service is really quick (and friendly) but even five minutes here feels like a slice of slowness, like someone hit pause on the city buzz and just let you be.

It's nicely judged. Full marks to designers Russell & George for making this funny splotch of a space so appealing. The custom-built ply furniture looks strangely weightless, smart ceiling baffles include a dramatic concertina arrangement over the kitchen and there's been a decent stab at overcoming the alarming arcade lighting with drop lights and soft globes. Maps, world globes, National Geographic magazines and the mustachioed logo reference the real Mister Close, the owners' year 8 geography teacher. Cute.

The breakfast menu is a nice wake-up call - there's chocolate french toast and baked eggs with spicy beans - but the cakes and pastries are amazing.

Check out a chocolate and avocado cake for gluten-free heaven, feast on large muffins with, perhaps, apple, maple and pecan, and always, always, always look for the caramel tart, with its rich biscuit base, slightly salty and very gooey caramel centre and a crisp layer of chocolate on top. How good? Let's just say that I licked the paper bag, and leave it at that.

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246 Bourke St, Melbourne, VIC

  • Prices - Breakfasts, $4.50-$17.50; soups and sandwiches, $10-$13; hot dishes, $13.50-$16.50; sweets, $4.50
  • Cards accepted - AMEX, Mastercard, Visa, EFTPOS
  • Opening Hours - Mon-Fri, 7am-4pm; Sat, 9am-4pm (opening Sun from July 3, 2011)
  • Author - Dani Valent
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