Gathered cafe review

The former Lonely Planet HQ is now the stylish Gathered cafe.
The former Lonely Planet HQ is now the stylish Gathered cafe. Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui

90 Maribyrnong St Footscray, VIC 3011

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Opening hours Mon-Fri 7am-4pm; Sat 7.30am-4pm
Features Events, Vegetarian friendly, Gluten-free options

It started life as a 19th-century wool store in then-thoroughly working-class Footscray. About a century later it became the HQ for publishing house Lonely Planet. And now, in the stylish hands of catering mavens Sam and Celeste Gant (Pot & Pan), this Maribyrnong-fronting warehouse has become upwardly mobile 'Scray's insanely beautiful new cafe.

The space

Well, gosh. It's impossible not to be taken aback at the stonking gorgeousness of this place. The ceiling is so high you might feel giddy just looking at it. The grand industrial steel windows might have been plucked from a Brooklyn-inspired mood board. From the leather drawer handles at the waiters' station to the moss-green leather binder housing the drinks list, it's like everything has been sourced from a secret Etsy warehouse for the terminally stylish. The Gants fought for years to turn this into a cafe, to which we say: Brava, ladies.

Avocado on toast with pickled carrot.
Avocado on toast with pickled carrot. Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui

The food

Being the cafe equivalent of George Clooney is nothing without the food to back it up. It's a relief not to be assaulted by those OTT flower-strewn desserts masquerading as breakfast from cafe owners trying to match their million-dollar fit-outs. Instead, there's a nicely low-key Vegemite and scamorza toast that hits the trifecta of salty, cheesy and carby notes. Excellent scrambled eggs are made with smoked butter with the curveball of a Cantonese-style spring onion sauce.

The only maybe in a sea of yes is lamb belly with a fried rice cake; a host of pickled and fresh veg and herbs don't quite succeed in countering the lamb's fat and the rice's dry.

Lamb belly with crisp rice  cake.
Lamb belly with crisp rice cake. Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui

Avocado toast finds its flair with a generous hand on the lime, pickled carrots and almond tarator; leave it in its natural vegan state or add a slab of the thick, proper English-style bacon.

The coffee

Carlton's Seven Seeds take care of caffeination across filter and espresso and their iced mirror twins. A bold flat white made with their Golden Gate blend hits a home run with its dark honey notes.

The drinks

A liquor license may eventuate down the track. Right now they're in the era known as "early days" with a list of chai, Strange Love sparkling drinks and juice specials. Unlimited sparkling water is $2 a head.

Loving The style, baby, that extends to exquisite Cone 11 ceramics.

Not getting Could cafes please start putting salt and pepper back on each table? Thank you.

Vegan factor A few options are supported by the full cast and crew of faux mylk for the drinks.

Overheard "Last time I drove around here I got so lost I had to pull over for a cry."

Cafe latte $4.20

https://www.gathered.net.au/