565 Bourke St Melbourne, VIC 3000
|Opening hours||Mon-Fri 7am-4pm|
|Features||Vegetarian friendly, Gluten-free options, Business lunch|
|Prices||Moderate (mains $20-$40)|
|Payments||eftpos, Visa, Mastercard|
The corporate world certainly has its share of ups and downs and right now we appear to be in the throes of a bull market, if the recent opening of excellent cafes anchoring established towers of power is anything to go by (that would make them a "buy!", in stockbroker parlance). Dave Makin and Zoe Delany opened their first Axil Coffee Roastery in Hawthorn in the dim, distant past of 2011 and have now grown their little empire to eight, including CBD spots on Flinders Lane and Lonsdale Street. Newcomer Axil Bourke's cherry on top: the full-service kitchen and table service.
Two roads lead to this Axil – one through the foyer of 565 Bourke, the other from Church Street – and it makes not a jot of difference when walking into this textured space that's a beguiling diversion from an open-plan office with a sad rubber plant dying in the corner. Open-plan bland is banished thanks to wooden partitioning that creates nooks and crannies with the illusion of privacy (like me, you might find yourself accidentally sitting next to a high-powered job interview; sorry, folks), while bricks laid into the floor, brass accents and non-depressed plants add a smorgasbord of visual interest.
File under "smart modern cafe fare". Few surprises here – from smashed avo to zucchini, corn and haloumi fritters served with colourful bits and bobs, it's a box-ticking exercise. Yet these are boxes that wish to be ticked, including smoked salmon and two poached eggs crowning a toasted seed-encrusted bagel (a tick for Woodfrog Bakery) with a lick of tangy hollandaise, fresh fennel and a smoosh of beetroot relish bringing the fresh.
Upscale to lunch with the likes of barramundi pan-seared to skin-crispness with a warm bean salsa, piquant herby sauce and hazelnuts – or a steak sanga done as nature intended with aioli and fat chips. For the busy office worker having lunch al desko, there's a grab-and-go section filled with vibrant-looking sandwiches and ciabattas.
Fun fact: Axil is named for the point between a leaf stalk and stem, which on a coffee plant is where the flowers grow. But don't be scared it's all specialty coffee nerds muttering about tasting notes. Their own caffe latte, served in a tulip cup with the perfect coffee-to-milk ratio, is a damn fine one, with nutty caramel notes finished with a subtle hit of sweetness. Also get it as a batch brew, cold drip or defy the weather with a long black spritzer.
Boozing and business don't mix – but there's a good tea range by Larsen & Thompson and fizzy things from Hepburn Mineral Springs.
Loving The smart lines of this new CBD crib.
Not getting The height ratio between the banquette seat and table top is out of whack (seat too low/table too high) – or is it just me?
Vegan factor Few true vegan dishes but a handful of vegetarian things are open to modification.
Overheard "Have I told you how much the job pays?"
Caffe latte $4.20