The Stables of Como

Lechlade Avenue, South Yarra, VIC

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Tuna niscoise.
The tuna niscoise. Photo: Simon Schluter

Nina Rousseau

Honey joys, lamingtons, Belgian chocolate crackles, tea-cakes, pastries, lemon-coconut slice, musk sticks, chocolate freckles, giant clouds of meringue swirled with Valrhona chocolate.

On a rustic, six-metre-long counter sits an eye-poppingly artful extravaganza, almost all of it made here.

''I wanted to create those old tearoom days, when you couldn't wait to finish the mains so you could eat dessert,'' says the flamboyant Jason M Jones, who, with Theo Tsapepas, leads hospitality management group Icke & Igby.

The Stables of Como.
The Stables of Como. Photo: Simon Schluter

How many cafes is that now by Jones and Tsapepas? There are Porgie & Mr Jones, Snow Pony and Friends of Mine (all cash only), and Mazzitelli - eastern suburbs strongholds known for their design smarts, quirky menus and instantly atmospheric spaces.

The same sure-fire template has been applied to the Stables, housed in - you guessed it - the former stables of Como Historic House. Its rambling grounds, open again to the public after 18 months, are leafy with garden tracks that wind past old-growth evergreens and tremendous Moreton Bay figs.

The ''country kitchen'' aesthetic is warm and hospitable, with unforced rusticity. Everything is impeccably presented and ''gorgeous'', in a home-interiors way, the fresh flowers arranged just so, the glossy white tiles framing the semi-open kitchen, and the shiny green coffee machine matching the lights.

The staff are an efficient, well-trained squad, with a manager overseeing the floor - pencils and paper for the toddler over here, more cutlery for table 14 over there.

''The chickens arrive this week,'' Jones says of the laying hens that are due any day. There's a 500-square-metre kitchen garden under way, and the Como's 1847 oven, unused for 50 years, will be fired up again soon to make ''Aggie's lemonade scones''.

Executive chef Jason Flygenring's menu has the hallmarks of its siblings, the same broad approach that suits all ages - non-threatening, mainstream classics, such as quiche lorraine; ploughman's plates; croissants with off-the-bone ham, emmenthal and tomato; ''happy chicken'' and white wine pies; and, of course, a Berocca for breakfast.

Certain dishes are based only on produce from the property, such as the silky three-egg omelet, rich with French goat's cheese that cuts through the creaminess, and with herbs, in this case marjoram and parsley. It's made with Green Eggs at present, but once the hens are settled, the idea is the number of eggs they lay will determine the number of omelets made that day. It's the same deal with the bruschetta, which is ''inspired by what's in season from our garden''.

Crumpet lovers, keep reading the menu, there are no amazing crumpets here - no Dr Marty's home-made beauties, for example. Parents of toddlers: these are ''normal'', supermarket Golden Crumpets, nothing fancy, so your child may actually eat them. Teeny tiny lidded jars of butter and spreads are a cute touch.

Milkshakes are served in tin cups, the strawberry flavoured with real fruit and the syrups made in house. The organic OJ comes in glass bottles with a straw, and the coffees are well made, although not overly strong.

There's a ''kid-friendly'' vibe, but perhaps dress them in ''going out'' gear, and make sure they are well behaved - this is South Yarra, and grooming counts.

At only three weeks old, the Stables is already off at a gallop. Welcome back, Como.

Cuisine Contemporary/cafe

Do … you have a group of 15 to 30 and want a house tour? Phone 8663 7260.

Don't … want to eat indoors? Pre-order a picnic and eat outside.

Dish … three-egg omelet.

Vibe … fancy country kitchen.

Drink ... unlicensed (licence application pending)

Twitter: @ninarousseau, or email nrousseau@fairfaxmedia.com.au.

 

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Lechlade Avenue, South Yarra, VIC

  • Cuisine - Contemporary
  • Prices - Breakfast, $5.50-$19.90; lunch, $13.90-$24.90; dessert, $3.50-$16.90.
  • Chef(s) - Jason Flygenring
  • Cards accepted - AMEX, Mastercard, Visa, EFTPOS
  • Opening Hours - Mon-Sat, 9am-5pm; Sun, 10am-5pm
  • Author - Nina Rousseau
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