2A Munro Street Coburg, Victoria 3058
|Opening hours||Mon-Fri 7am-4pm; Sat-Sun 8am-4pm|
|Prices||Cheap (mains under $20)|
|Phone||03 9917 2262|
The fresh air inspectors gather most mornings in Sydney Road, heads bobbing, turning the world over in the old dialects while their signoras wheel shopping trolleys into the faded market. Bell Street is the border, and the Coburg shops are the southern frontier of the old north.
In nearby Munro Street the new north – of pretty tattoos and heavy-framed spectacles and uncultivated beards – gathers over mugs of filter coffee and plates of huevos rancheros, with a soundtrack that's a bit of alt-everything, from Gillian Welch to Rose Tattoo.
"Rose Tattoo – very funny," says True North's co-owner Brett O'Riley, a music-industry veteran. "About the most Australian lyrics of any band."
O'Riley played in Warped ("rock 'n' roll"), as well as Ricaine and Blacklevel Embassy (both "nasty punk"): hence the rock 'n' roll vibe at True North, with timber booth seating channelling the USA's wild south-west, retro Melbourne gig posters, hot sauce bottles lined up on the bar and slacker (not slack) floor staff.
O'Riley's business partner, Nadia Camus is in charge of the food, now cooked in a proper kitchen installed when they knocked the original cafe through into the shop next door early this year.
Camus and O'Riley met through music ("Brett played in a band with my partner"), but the food is inspired by Camus's family background: her mum is from Chile. "There are definitely Latin American and more generally American flavours," she says.
So the signature brunch is huevos rancheros ($16), fried and served with slow-cooked black beans and guacamole on corn tortillas. The Latin theme continues with a breakfast burrito ($13), a crisp tortilla wrapped around creamy scrambled eggs laced with sliced jalapeno, a little wilted spinach and a pot of tangy tomato relish. Team that with a bottomless mug of Moccamaster filter coffee ($5) for a masterclass in coffee and food matching: the hot shots of jalapeno lift the brew onto an almost mystic plane of delicious.
Baked eggs with chorizo ($15) are a little more Coburg with their middle-eastern inflection of lemon-spiked spinach, grilled haloumi and pine nuts, and a breakfast roll ($15.50) adds bubble 'n' squeak to the usual fried-egg-and-free-range-bacon combo.
Camus says sourcing produce nearby is important. "We want to support Coburg. We try to keep it as Coburg as possible," she says. "I walk around to the deli for lots of produce, though the tortillas come from Kensington."
A couple of crisp waffles are stacked with slices of strawberry and banana, drizzled with maple syrup and scattered with candied pecans ($12.50), but the sweet highlight is the pie of the day ($7.50).
"That's my brainchild," says Camus. "I went on a holiday to the States a few years back and had a plum pie in Chicago that was just the best. I'm making a classic apple at the moment, but coming into winter it will be pumpkin with a crispy maple pecan top.
"The filter coffee goes really well with the pie," she says. "And it looks so pretty when I put the mug down with it."