We were a little concerned when we were told that new Prahran cafe Middletown was inspired by Kate Middleton (yes, the British royal). Thankfully it's really got nothing to do with her, unless you count the royal-blue colour scheme, it's more about an elegant space and thoughtful food.
The new High Street location (a few shops past the Smith) is another cafe at the base of an apartment block, this one, designed by Studio Tate, offers a striking navy colour palette accompanied by terrazzo tiles, brass trims and hints of marble.
It's a second venue for Randy Dhamanhuri and Valerie Fong of Melbourne cafe Operator 25. Fong's fine-dining background (she was once head chef at Bacash) gave Operator 25 a leg up in the fine-dining brunch scene and they're giving it another go, this time with chef Gilly Singh (ex Top Paddock, Kettle Black and Two Birds One Stone) at the pans.
Rich blue, leather-bound menus hold stiff, old fashioned white card with tricked up classics made for eating, not Instagramming: espresso-infused waffles are topped with truffled vanilla ice-cream and a field of strawberries (fresh, freeze-dried, sous vide and gel); pickled mackerel with manchego, jamon, fried egg and baguette presents as deconstructed sandwich, ticking the boxes for crunchy, salty and sweet.
Code Black is the coffee of choice, Operator 25 head barista Mikael Jasin has come over to man the Synesso MVP and a Seraphim coffee brewer for filter but that's as fancy as it gets. "A hot chocolate is just a hot chocolate," says Dhamanhuri of the drinks menu, "smoothies yes, superfoods no." And not a freakshake in sight.
Open Mon-Fri 7am-4pm; Sat-Sun 8am-4pm.
229 High Street, Prahran, 03 9530 2288, middletown.com.au