Pawa Cafe & Bar
Pawa Cafe is an Indigenous-owned bar and cafe at Hamer Hall, serving drinks and dishes with a native twist.
Pawa means “to cook” in the language of the Gunditjmara people. For the cafe’s owners, Gunditjmara woman Niyoka Bundle and her chef husband Vincent Manning, their mission is to highlight native ingredients in new ways. The pair are also dedicated to ensuring their products are sustainable and ethically produced and to providing a place of employment for Aboriginal communities.
Expect all your lunchtime standards – but with native flavours. Alongside toasties, rolls and wraps, might be danishes made with tart lilly pilly berries, quandong croissants, strawberry gum pain au chocolat and wattleseed choc chip cookies.
Stop by Pawa for a pre-show drink and you can look out across the Yarra to the lights of the city while sipping local wines and beers, Bells Beach vodka and spiced rum, and Bundle and Manning’s own Taka gin, made with native lemongrass and lemon-scented gum.
There are also grazing platters – which might come with red wine kangaroo salami, green ant brie, mountain pepper cheddar, caperberries, bush tomato relish and pepperberry olives – for a pre-show snack. Most of the food on the menu has either a native ingredient or foraged element, and they are all ethically and sustainably sourced through local farmers or foragers.
Accompanying the space’s original Arts Centre fit-out – a bright-yellow-walled nod to notable Melbourne sculptures (Eastlink cheese stick, ACCA’s Vault) and blown-glass pendant chandelier designed by Canadian artist Omer Arbel – is an undulating serpentine artwork on the front window and on the screen behind the counter, representing Mount Emu Creek.
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