Photo: Craig Sillitoe
The Pint of Milk
Three and half stars
19 North Road, Newport, 93916641
Unlicensed: AE MC V eftpos
Mon-Fri, 7am-4pm; Sat-Sun, 8am-4pm
Breakfast $4.50-$18, lunch $9-$18, cakes $5
When Amin Elmenawi and his sister Yvonne took on this old milk bar opposite Newport Park, it was smoke-sodden, bare-shelved and making a scant living selling cigs, fishing licences and bait to folk casting a line at the Warmies, just up the road. The pair weren't daunted by the termites and the stink, nor the exposed and isolated position. That's because Amin and Yvonne grew up in milk bars, selling lollies and papers and sliced white, but also watching their mum and dad buy, renovate, build up and sell mixed businesses in St Albans, Clifton Hill, Essendon — all over the place. The Elmenawis know small business.
Amin and Yvonne also own the thriving Pickle Barrell Deli in Williamstown but they had their eyes on this place for a few years before they pounced on a new lease and created a modern corner store that would have done their dad proud (he died three years ago). They gutted the place, brightened it up, and kitted it with a wraparound timber bench and a tall communal table. The milk bar identity is retained in a fridge full of farmer-friendly Jonesy's Dairy milk, a basket of organic sourdough and a pile of newspapers. There are mixed lollies, too, though it would be a shame not to satisfy the sweet tooth with grapefruit cake, hazelnut double chocolate brownie or strawberry, almond and rhubarb bakewell tart, all made here.
There's a fancy coffee machine and hipster coffee but the menu takes more of a don't-frighten-the-natives approach than, say, the startlingly creative fare at nearby Duchess of Spotswood. But it's good stuff from chef Mark Wallen: serves are generous and the dishes are attractive. Standouts on the breakfast menu include ricotta hotcakes with delicious honeycomb parfait, and steak and fried eggs with a sticky reduction of balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. For lunch, try toasted pides and crisp saffron-tinged cauliflower fritters with pomegranate seed-studded cous cous. It's light but sustaining, big on colour and flavour. Recent specials included Jerusalem artichoke soup made with vegies grown by an old man over the road.
Service is friendly (Amin is usually out front) though not exactly slick. I reckon the young families in the area would appreciate half-serve options or a couple of items for kids. Overall, though, the Pint of Milk is a charmer. Why head to the Warmies when it's so warm in here?
St Edmonds, rear 154 Greville Street, Prahran, 95250473. Daily, breakfast & lunch; Tues-Sat, dinner
Another "used-to-be" conversion, this time of a garage, the all-day eatery in its place serves breakfast classics and brunches with a difference, such as spicy spanner crab omelette with roti bread and sesame.
My Sister Says, 118 Bridge Street, Port Melbourne, 96461117. Daily, breakfast & lunch
East Malvern's Servery & Spoon has sprouted a sweet sibling in underserviced Port Melbourne. Come for yummy eggy goodness such as pistachio-crusted brioche French toast with passionfruit curd.
Botanical, 169 Domain Road, South Yarra, 98207888. Daily, breakfast, lunch & dinner
Undo a morning's lap of the Tan by ordering a shmancy eggs benedict with smoked salmon, hollandaise and Yarra Valley caviar or seriously fuel up with bacon, eggs, house-made sausage and a kipper.
Ainslie Lubbock, ex-Attica manager and now a wine representative for Imbibo, loves popping into Gertrude Street Enoteca. “There's so much hospitality in that space," she says. "There's beautiful music, delicious and interesting wine, someone to have a good conversation with and great food. Last time I went there, [chef] Brigitte [Hafner] had made the most divine bowl of Jerusalem artichoke soup. They nail it, I reckon."
- 9391 6641
- Cuisine - Modern Australian
- Prices - Breakfast $4.50-$18, lunch $9-$18, cakes $5
- Cards accepted - AMEX, Mastercard, Visa, EFTPOS
- Opening Hours - Mon-Fri, 7am-4pm; sat-Sun, 8am-4pm
- Author - Dani Valent