With some of Melbourne’s most experienced café operators behind this Elsternwick joint, it’s no surprise that it’s a slick operation
Great coffee, enticing menu, slick design, friendly, knowledgeable staff: with the combined force of restaurateur Jason M Jones (Entrecôte, Stables of Como), café heavy-hitter Ramez Abdulnour (Rosso Roasting Co) and head chef Alan Wineera-Timu (Tonka, Coda), there could be no other way.
Occupying the former Moor’s Head site – the south-side counterpart to Joseph Abboud’s Thornbury pizza joint – the café is named for Melbourne espresso pioneer Henry Bancroft, who brought the Italian Gaggia coffee machine here in the 1950s and counted the famous University Café and Pellegrini’s among his first customers.
Do come here for the coffee. The Rosso custom house blend pairs beautifully with milk in a smooth, nutty latte, while the dark chocolate notes of a regularly rotating single origin shine in a long black. Have one with your meal and another for the road – did we mention it’s just $2.50 for a take-away coffee?
The wide-ranging (and risk-taking) menu is another nod to the hospitality credentials behind this venue: manager Zachary Riggs describes it as a “best of” list of what Melbourne café diners demand.
Pudding might seem an odd choice for breakfast, but the coconut chia pudding sits on the healthier side of sweet, with poached quince, grapefruit, toasted almonds and mint sprigs adding texture to the soft, jelly-like pudding.
Live more dangerously at lunchtime with a po’boy of perfect fried buttermilk chicken in a soft brioche roll. A tangy fennel and red cabbage slaw cuts the richness of the Kewpie mayo and chipotle sauce that binds this package together. You’ll want to order the double serve. Cut the guilt factor by pairing it with an ancient grain salad, full of smoky roasted cauliflower and pops of pomegranate. More substantial is the fragrant coconut and chicken green curry, artfully presented in a coconut husk, with fleshed coconut and a jar of fresh coconut water on the side to temper the chilli kick.
The large, open room has an industrial feel with a green twist, courtesy of the many ferns and pot plants dangling from the roof, arranged in vases on the front communal table and dotted among the wine bottles on the wall behind the coffee machine. Colour comes from the striking red and turquoise abstract street art mural, painted by tattoo artist Ky Loh.
Bancroft Brewers is a far cry from the tiny European espresso bars that inspired Henry Bancroft in the ’50s, but we wager that he’d be content that his legacy is in safe hands.
|Venue name:||Bancroft Brewers (closed)|
480a Glenhuntly Rd
|Opening hours:||Mon-Fri 7am-4pm; Sat, Sun 8am-4pm|