Sibling review

Japanesque: Miso eggplant and fried egg on toast.
Japanesque: Miso eggplant and fried egg on toast. Photo: Eddie Jim

611 Nicholson St Carlton North, VIC 3054

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Opening hours Mon-Fri 7am-3pm; Sat-Sun 8am-3pm
Features Licensed, Vegetarian friendly, Gluten-free options
Payments eftpos, Visa, Mastercard
Phone 0421 726 901

Serving the warm fuzzies with its brunch since 2010, CBD cafe Kinfolk has taken over a space in Carlton North to spread it message of social inclusion (volunteers receive job training and an invaluable sense of belonging), charity (customers choose whether profits go to the Cathy Freeman Foundation or Asylum Seeker Resource Centre) and excellent, on-trend food. Even as a purely for-profit cafe it would be worth seeking out. That this crowdfunded space wears its heart on its sleeve and puts a whole lot of good into the world lifts it to cafe-hero status.

The space

You can forget you're in something of a Nicholson Street dead zone walking into the light, bright warehouse with a lush floral print adorning the back wall and wrapping around the chefs' station. Formerly the cafe Arkwright & Co, the 1950s textile factory has been opened up and reimagined by a design that grabs the good bone structure like a German Shepherd on a drug bust. Soaring ceilings, dark timber arches and Scandi tables bring the style.

Sibling's soaring ceilings, dark timber arches and lush prints.
Sibling's soaring ceilings, dark timber arches and lush prints. Photo: Eddie Jim

The food

You know you're in Melbourne in 2019 when the first item on a brunch menu is "miso eggplant, shiso, nori, spring onion, bonito and toast". The Japanesque bent is a good one – the miso eggplant cooked to the point of smoosh so that it's both vegetable and condiment. Head to Italy with stracciatella on sourdough toast with flavour-packed heirloom tomatoes and fresh basil, or keep it simple with an avocado-hummus hybrid on toast. Lunches include pulled jackfruit, the vegan's best friend, hitting a Mexican note with refried beans and pico de gallo on a tortilla.

The coffee

Stracciatella cheese, heirloom tomatoes and basil on sourdough toast.
Stracciatella cheese, heirloom tomatoes and basil on sourdough toast. Photo: Eddie Jim

Beans are by Small Batch Roasting Co. Because: ethical. Also because: nutty earthy, and able to stand up to the likes of soy and almond milk.

The drinks

Continue the caffeinated theme with a Cafe Negroni cocktail (judging by the frenzied pace of the bartender at 11am on a Saturday, they're proving mighty popular). A couple of beers come from around the 'hood (there's Hawker Pale Ale from Reservoir and a Bodriggy Staunch Pilsner from Abbotsford), plus four Victorian wines including the Jamsheed "Candy Flip" pet-nat that display a natural bent.

Address 611 Nicholson Street, Carlton North, 0421 726 901, siblingbykinfolk.org.au

Open Mon-Fri 7am-3pm; Sat-Sun 8am-3pm

Loving The free, filtered-, sparkling- or still water. Oh, and the fact Sibling gives people in need a chance and that all profits go to charity.

Not getting Only being told about the free-water policy when paying the bill.

Overheard "OK kids, do you want to support the Cathy Freeman Foundation or the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre?"

Vegan factor Come, all ye faithful: about half of the menu is vegan, and with notable exceptions such as a mortadella toastie and a Jamaican goat curry, the rest of the menu is vegetarian.

Cafe latte $4

https://www.siblingbykinfolk.org.au/