Just Open: Higher Ground, Melbourne

Roasted mushrooms and polenta at Higher Ground cafe in Melbourne's CBD.
Roasted mushrooms and polenta at Higher Ground cafe in Melbourne's CBD.  Photo: Paul Jeffers

Update: Higher Ground is now expected to open on Monday, July 4.

Long-awaited cafe Higher Ground opens on Tuesday at the west end of Little Bourke Street, two years after owners Nathan Toleman, Ben Clark, Diamond Rozakeas, Sam Slattery, Kim Sheridan and Nate Wilkins took on the heritage-listed 19th-century powerhouse.

Toleman says the venue is "not really a restaurant, not really a cafe – people can come in for coffee or lunch and stay for dinner".

Higher Ground has three levels.
Higher Ground has three levels. Photo: Paul Jeffers

With 16 chefs who've been through the likes of Jacques Reymond, Pope Joan and Supernormal on his roster, Nate Wilkins' daytime menu features smart takes on cafe brunch – maybe a cauliflower scramble with house-made flatbread; roasted mushrooms with polenta; or a wagyu short-rib roll with pickled daikon.

The evening menu, from Thursday to Saturday, is about plates "inspired by the places we like to eat," says Wilkins. "MoVida, Embla, the Town Mouse: something to have with a beer or a glass of wine."

Coffee is from the group's own Square One roastery, which also supplies sibling venues Top Paddock and the Kettle Black.

Cauliflower scramble.
Cauliflower scramble. Photo: Paul Jeffers

The towering space winds over three levels, with lounge-type nooks giving it the feel of a hip hotel lobby, and a monochromatic colour scheme lifted by greenery.

Open Mon-Wed 7am-4pm; Thu-Fri 7am-11pm; Sat 8am-11pm; Sun 8am-4pm.

650 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne, 03 8899 6219, highergroundmelbourne.com.au