20 Guildford Lane Melbourne, Victoria 3000
|Opening hours||Mon-Thurs, 7am-5pm; Fri, 7am-9pm; Sat-Sun, 8am-4pm|
|Prices||Moderate (mains $20-$40)|
|Payments||Mastercard, Visa, eftpos|
|Phone||03 9043 8844|
Schulim Krimper was born 120 years ago in Bukovina, then part of Austria-Hungary, now divided between Ukraine and Romania. Orphaned at the age of nine, little Schulim was apprenticed to a cabinet maker. After finishing his articles and serving in the Austro-Hungarian army in during World War I, Krimper travelled in Europe, eventually settling in Berlin. But the Nazis came to power and Krimper - the son of a rabbi - fled, arriving in Melbourne in 1939.
According to the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Krimper was Melbourne's go-to man for custom-made cabinet work in the 1950s and 1960s. He presided over his St Kilda workshop wearing a smock, a beret and sometimes, it is reported, a monocle.
He has now been accorded one of Melbourne's highest accolades - a laneway cafe named in his honour.
Krimper, the cafe, occupies a former furniture factory turned gallery in Guildford Lane. It's the brainchild of architect Mun Soon, and a large original Krimper sideboard sits in pride of place in the open warehouse space. Most of the other furniture is made of timber recycled from the old factory, and a one-time goods lift serves as a semi-private cabin in the middle of the exposed-beam-and-raw-brick space.
Krimper is a spacious retreat that pulls a solid white-collar lunch crowd with a menu of Melbourne brunch favourites.
The house-made granola and poached seasonal fruits is perfect for health-conscious types skating to the office in Reeboks and shoulder pads, while the almond-crusted French toast is a more louche arrangement of syrupy toast, roasted peach and a dollop of sweet mascarpone on a serving board cut from some old factory timber.
Another breakfast classic appears as the Krimper benedict: two poached eggs, the yolks not quite set, with a tasty hollandaise accompanied by salty, porky pulled ham hock, with bright-green fresh basil pesto for a seasonal twist.
The lunch favourite, says Soon, is the wagyu burger, with cheddar, sweet onions, cornichons and a side of chips. A prawn salad with avocado puree and Marie Rose sauce tempts in a retro way, but it is hard to go past a trio of glazed pork belly sliders with pickled radish and coleslaw. Each of the little brioche buns bears a slice of darkly caramel-crusted char siu pork - delicious and more-ish.
There's no laneway show without coffee and at Krimper the beans are supplied by Proud Mary and Melbourne micro-roasters Tom & Shanny. The house blend is PM's Honeysuckle, and it's sweet and crisp in milky coffee. There are seasonal single-origins, such as a sharp and pulpy short black of an Ethiopian Sidamo Guji, while filter-coffee fans will be well served by pourovers of the singles - all done with the same contemporary artisanal feel that old Krimper brought to his sideboards, writing desks and, naturally, coffee tables.
Do … snack on a pork belly slider - offered for $6 each if you can't go three
Don't … miss the original Krimper sideboard
Dish … Almond-crusted French toast
Vibe … Cruisy city lunchtime hideaway