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Finn Café [Cafe]

Restaurants St Kilda
4 out of 5 stars

Our favourite suburb for snack shopping has a new great place to brunch

Carlisle Street is one of the city’s last great strongholds of independent grocers. On your way to Finn you’ll pass three butchers, a fishmonger and Jewish bakeries selling bagels and gefilte fish. Tesoriero & Luca Bros have crates of oranges and figs spilling out into the street and the surly ladies at the Russian deli will shave you off big strips of smoked pork belly for the best bacon sandwich of your life.

You’ll find Finn at the end of all this just past Chapel Street, and the cute new café has come out swinging.

The front cabinet is filled with foot-long baguettes stuffed with ham off the bone and roast chicken. They buy the bread from Noisette bakery half-baked so they can finish them on premises for optimal crunch. The rest of the counter is overflowing with fat chocolate beetroot cakes, doorstop brownies and lemon meringue tarts, most of which are coming from their own ovens.

It’s a simple cutesy space in pastels and greys with flowery wallpaper, a jumble of school chairs, and a big rack packed with potted palms and baskets of root vegetables. There’s a power point at a long communal table, freelance friends – just take heed that if you’re wall-side, you’ll have to pull an undignified slither under the table to escape if the room fills up. And we can guarantee it will.

Breakfast gets a dust up here and everyone wants in. The runners and pram-pushers arrive early for fresh crushed peas with salmon and feta on toast. The queue’s gone by noon, but you run the risk of a limited menu. We miss the croque madame twice, damn it, but our hearts and cold hands are grateful for a broth with lentils, chicken and bright ruffles of kale. It’s super restorative soup with surprising depth.

In the grinders are beans from Seven Seeds and they’re producing a great milk coffee that’s equal parts tangy and smoky, but the teas have just as much chop. Our Full Moon chai from Scullery Made is a big glass pot of black tea spiced with pepper, fennel seeds, cinnamon, cardamom and ginger. It’s like potpourri for drinking.

For a short menu, they tick the boxes. The breakfast board alone is a buffet on a plank. Squidgy boiled egg halves are lightly rolled in salt and pepper and come with a fluffy beetroot dip, nutty muesli and whipped mascarpone, a foot-ripe hunk of tallegio cheese, sheets of smoked salmon and a scoop of rustic duck rillettes, fragrant with star anise.

Add in some sweet tunes, and seats outside for dog fans and you’ve got some very compelling reasons to jump the Sandringham line to a suburb already worth a visit.

This venue welcomes American Express



By: Gemima Cody


Venue name: Finn Café [Cafe]
Address: 124 Carlisle St
St Kilda
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 7.30am-4pm; Sat, Sun 8am-4pm
Transport: Nearby stations: Balaclava
Static map showing venue location