They set a pretty utopian scene at Hawthorn Common. In the huge, glistening white tiled café bread is being baked, coffee is being roasted, kale is being blitzed into verdant green smoothies; and at 7.30am on Saturdays yoga is gettin’ done between the garden beds on the deck.
It’s so nice in fact, we half expect someone to try and indoctrinate us into a cult over eggs, but the only agenda being pushed here is one of direct-sourced everything from coffee beans to quinoa, crafted into fresh and punchy health food with plenty of bacon and booze on the side – and that’s something we’re on board with already.
Our total lack of surprise at the Earth-and-producer-loving policies here comes courtesy of the knowledge that Danny and Sian Colls are in charge. Years ago they opened cyclist-magnet Café Racer in St Kilda, but they were last seen helping set up Silo by Joost – the CDB café where nothing goes to waste.
Here you’ll find much of Silo’s wholefood philosophy put into action by ex-Vue de Monde chef Stefano Rosi. How about a party platter of carrots? It’s a fresh and peppy mountain of purple haze and sweet little Dutch numbers which have been pureed, pickled, shaved into ribbons or fried, fronds and all, in a thick batter that makes them more like veg-stuffed churros than the tempura batons they’re billed as, but tasty mouthfuls of crunch nonetheless.
Or then there’s a zesty grain salad combining nutty wild rice, quinoa and a full hiker’s lunchbox worth of pepitas, sunflower seeds and raisins with black tomatoes so acid-sweet it’s like a whole new species of the fruit. Add a green smoothie, with grapes, kiwi, apple and kale if you really want to exfoliate your insides.
On the flip side, you could be here to catch some rays on the deck, smash some bacon balls – deep-fried cheesy dough nuggets peppered with salty pork – and a round of Hawthorn Pale Ales. This is actually one of the best places in the area to get a drink. Inside, a fully operational bar is slinging craft beers, prosecco and gin, lime, cucumber and herbs shaken down over plenty of ice for a boozy brunch-lunch-afternoon cocktail. It is also, parents, one of the few joints in town where you can get a drink and know your kids are entertained roaming between the planter boxes.
Cafés like this are a win for everyone. The fresh food philosophy is more action than talk, and for all those of us for whom meat is not a dirty word, chunky black pudding on toast is still on the cards.