Set your sat nav for Eltham’s newest – and most beautiful – café
Jason M Jones, owner of cafes such as Friends of Mine and Porgie and Mr Jones, has opened his latest venture in a quiet Eltham backstreet. Inner-city faint-hearts may gasp at its remoteness, but Second Home is really just a shortish canter down the Eastern Freeway, and what awaits the intrepid traveller more than justifies the journey.
Second Home has exceptionally good bones. Formerly a '70s art gallery, the space is gorgeous, with soaring ceilings, timber beams and wrap-around skylights. A boxed tree sits in the middle of the room and striking landscape photography adorns the walls. Homey touches include the comfy couches, fireplace and low-hanging, blue and white pottery lights (people over four foot five need to mind their head). It feels fresh and spacious, with a lovely touch of swaying gumtree Australiana.
To wet your whistle, there’s robust-flavoured coffee from Rosso Roasting Co, smoothies fortified with healthy nibs and nuts, green tea lattes (perfect with almond milk and honey) and plenty of food-friendly wines by the glass.
The menu is approachable and exerts enough temptation to make you wonder if the place would have been more appropriately christened Second Stomach. Take the chicken saltimbocca. Sweet, tender meat (free-range of course) is wrapped in a corset of crisp prosciutto and placed in a moat of white polenta. Fried sage leaves add a herbal crunch. It’s generous and warms the cockles.
A salad of roasted cauliflower and ancient grains is petite, but enough. Spiced florets – nicely tanned – are aromatic with cumin and coriander and sit among a nutty jumble of ancient grains including wild rice and barley. Drops of Persian feta add a creamier texture while mint leaves and parsley sprigs freshen up the dish’s earthiness.
Post mains, it’s time to cruise by the sweets cabinet, whose whimsical confections will transport you back to the milk bar of your childhood (pink musk sticks!). The housemade Wagon Wheel proves that, while there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel, it can be enhanced: two sturdy milk chocolate-coated biscuits sandwich a filling that will coat your molars in peppermint creaminess. OK, with no marshmallow or jam in sight, it’s more Arnott’s mint slice – but trades descriptions aside, it’s darn good.
The service is what you’d expect from the name of the place: warm, chatty and helpful. Perhaps in busier moments there are errors – a neighbour has to enquire several times after their elusive garlic bread and drinks are ferried to the wrong table. But any such slips are forgivable in the glow that’s conjured by Second Home’s hospitality.
|Venue name:||Second Home|
21 Brougham St
|Opening hours:||Daily 8am-4pm|