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Abbotsford’s newest eatery has the Midas touch, transforming a dank garage to a luscious green café
On the off chance you weren’t concentrating in your high school science classes, Au79 stands for gold on the periodic table. Atomic numbers and electron configurations aside, it’s also the name of an ambitious new café in Abbotsford that boasts an onsite bakery, coffee roaster and mini retail space selling sweet treats and coffee.
The CCC Group (who manage Sir Charles, Addict Food & Coffee, Liar Liar and Prospect Espresso) have converted a motor garage into an absolute humdinger of a café. The former grease pit is now light-filled and spacious – huge, actually – with curvaceous booths, more greenery than the Daintree and a soothing palette of soft pinks, green and, of course, gold.
Head chef Stephen Hogan (ex Sir Charles and St Ali) has nudged Au79’s contemporary breakfast and lunch menu in intriguing directions. Duck bao burgers and waffles with pandan ice cream evidence strong Asian influences, while the classics get fancied up in surprising ways: granola is served with acai sorbet and the big breakfast comes with a housemade jus. There’s also toast for those who crave simplicity.
Au79’s okonomiyaki is a neat version of Japan’s favourite cabbage pancake. Crisp on the outside and light and mash-potato-like fluffy within, it’s stacked with fried eggplant, sweet katsu sauce, a handful of coriander sprigs and shavings of crisp sweet potato chips. Yuzu mayonnaise is dotted round the plate’s edges; swipe your pancake through it for added creaminess.
The lamb croquette makes an elegant meat-and-three-veg luncheon. Crack through the croquette’s crunchy outer shell to reveal shreds of soft and juicy 24-hour-braised lamb. While it’s pretty rich, whimsically arranged vegetables – sweet roasted carrots (some standing tall, others lying on their sides), squat purple beets and wafer-thin discs of refreshing pickled kohlrabi – provide a welcome (and pretty) contrast.
Given the in-house bakery, it’s only good manners to sample the sweets. The twisted croissant pastry dusted with cinnamon and sugar is light, flaky and oven-fresh. A lamington, on the other hand, is heavy on the chocolate centre, light on the sponge and perhaps a little too sickly for some.
Au79’s broad drinks list has teas, fresh juices, smoothies and lattes both matcha and sunny yellow turmeric. Then there’s the coffee (batch and espresso). The ‘24K’ house blend of beans from Brazil, Colombia and Guatemala is like a Bond villain – smooth and seductively potent.
This café has wide appeal and it’s no wonder that everyone from Instagrammers and laptop-toting freelancers to more senior lunching ladies are filling up the booths. With style, substance and friendly service, Au79 could easily trigger a gold rush among Melbourne’s brunchers.