7 Wynyard Street South Melbourne, Victoria 3205
|Opening hours||Mon-Fri 7am-5pm, Sat-Sun 8am-4pm|
|Prices||Moderate (mains $20-$40)|
|Payments||eftpos, Visa, Mastercard|
|Phone||03 9690 9285|
If you can take Kirbie Tate's word for it – and why wouldn't you? – what I like to call South Melburners have a hyper-developed sense of the local.
Tate and business partner Angelica Wright own Giddiup, a smart espresso bar in the Coventry Street design/market shopping strip. But the pair felt there was room for a place further east, catering to people on the St Kilda Road side of Clarendon: some of their regulars were walking, oh, 500 metres to Giddiup.
So when Coventry Street neighbour Made in Japan moved to a more boutique location in Wynyard Street, the Giddiup gals jumped at the chance to join them.
Wynyard occupies its own space in the tiny lane, with access to MIJ through the cafe. "We've always wanted to work with Made in Japan," Tate says. "And the space offered us a bigger kitchen and the chance to develop the menu."
Wright's partner, Jed, is in charge of that development. His menu is a one-pager with a brunch focus full of dishes that beg to be eaten.
Take the smoothie bowl, a big wodge – I think quenelle is the technical term – of a purple frozen yoghurt-type thing on a bed of crunchy, coconutty granola laced with chia seeds and lush pieces of fresh strawberry. It's kind of girly-sporty-healthy, if you'll pardon my saying so, and the healthy sporty girl who was eating with me ate it all up.
Then there's french toast made with day-old house-baked croissant and pain au chocolat soaked in vanilla custard, sealed on the hotplate, caramelised under the salamander and served with house-made labna (oh man); and the "early burger" of bacon, egg, potato roesti, avo and rocket. (There's a "late burger" too, more lunch-like, with gruyere, pickles and matchstick fries.)
"Mixed mushrooms" often turn up on cafe menus, and often the only mixing is of the Swiss browns in their own juices. But here the dish is a beautifully plated assortment of smoked field mushrooms, enoki, oysters and shiitake, piled with sculptural care on two slices of squeaky-salty haloumi and two thick-cut pieces of toasted sourdough. It's all funghi tastes and textures, meaty and vegetal, toothy and delicate, with splashes of walnut pesto that tastes of equal parts lemon, parsley, nuts and olive oil.
Specials – Sharpied onto a roll of brown paper – might include a splendidly magenta bowl of pearl barley tossed with chunks of roasted beetroot and laced with kale that could have been a little more wilted – it was a lovely bright green, but tasted a bit too much of, um, raw kale.
But the pork belly tortillas are a winner: two soft corn tortillas loaded with chunks of sweet, orange-and-star-anise marinated belly meat that falls apart without going stringy a la pulled pork, given a sharp flavour lift by a bright tomato and avocado salad infused with lime and mint.
I love the coffee at Wynyard, too, made with beans from Sydney's Single Origin Roasters. The filters are subtle and tangy, like a toffee-and-cola flavoured Rwanda Huye Mountain (a great food match), while the espressos feature creamy body and lifted fruit.
My Under $30 colleague Simone Egger recently wrote that Melbourne was suffering from cafe fatigue. Cheeky, I thought. And if she's right, I'm out of a job.
But I think the love affair has a way to run yet – as long as cafes like Wynyard keep opening.
Dish: Pork belly taco or smoked mixed mushrooms.
Do: Try the filter coffee with a savoury breakfast dish.
Don't: Miss the homewares shopping at Made in Japan.
Vibe: Local hidey-hole.