Just days after the opening of Studio Spring on Magill Road, Stepney has scored another arrival – next door – in the form of Cachemira x Banderilla Y Bara.
Owners Isaac King and Nathan Nababan (who together run Belair cafe Lenox Ave) have been hard at work making over the pokey former Libertine by Louis site into a Mediterranean-inspired brunch spot and bar.
When Broadsheet speaks to King – a couple of days before Cachemira’s soft opening – he’s brushing dirt off his hands, having spent the afternoon readying the cafe’s outdoor area (a long oak dining table from his family’s country home – the centrepiece of the courtyard – arrived earlier that day). While there’s still a few final touches to be made, he and Nababan are ready to start welcoming patrons.
For now, it’s a simple menu of ready-made sandwiches, pastries and coffee by Toby’s Estate. The main event is the pan pistola – baguettes stuffed with jamon serrano, manchego cheese and tomato; casalinga with olive tapenade and chutney; marinated chicken with avocado and chutney; and roasted eggplant with Spanish onion, tomato and chutney, all served with wild rocket and smoked aioli. Croissants and other pastries are baked within walking – and smelling – distance at neighbouring croissanterie, Cannelle Pastries. The full brunch menu will be up in the coming weeks.
Once the day trade is ticking over, King plans to open up after hours too – with cocktails and small plates. “Our liquor license is probably still two or three months away, so we’re looking at spring until we can start the tapas menu,” he says. When they do, you can expect dishes such as calamari Madrid, a baguette with deep-fried squid and aioli, and chargrilled green onions known as “calcot” served with salvitxada (a romesco-style salsa).
For the dinner menu, “We’re going really traditional,” King told Broadsheet in June. Several of the recipes come courtesy of a close friend, originally from Catalonia, who during lockdown was craving the flavours of home. King offered to cook some of her favourite dishes. “She told me a lot about street food … and I started cooking more and more.”
King inherited a space with great character, and has been mindful not to alter it too much. A large mirror makes the dining area seem larger than its actual meterage, and natural light floods in from several angles. Out back, the vines and olive trees give a rustic, homey vibe – perfect for the incoming summer months.
With Ferg’s and Little Bang Brewing Company, as well as Big Star and Wolfie’s Records also neighbours, Cachemira is another reason why Stepney is becoming one of our favourite ‘hoods for spending a lazy weekend afternoon.