Northcote’s Cafe Kalimba pays homage to its history with its name – after a small African thumb piano.
Owners and partners N’fa Forster-Jones and Alice Gobet have a long history in music. Forster-Jones is the frontman of 1200 Techniques. As well as working as a model, Gobet is a classically trained pianist.
The pair came across the space through architect Liam Wallace, who Forster-Jones ran track with “back in the day”. Forster-Jones’ personal relationships have strongly inspired his choices at Kalimba. The coffee is sourced from Kensington roasting house Rumble, via friend and roaster Joe Malloy; and the illustrated branding is the work of friend and artist Xavtin.
Kalimba makes a statement of character, despite its size. A bench lines the wall, with small wooden tables in front. There’s a petite kitchen, a vintage piano and an intricate illustration of Australian flora and fauna in front of the coffee machine, which reads “Kalimba”.
The menu hangs many of its dishes on the use of the savoury waffle, and the risk pays off. The pulled-pork waffle-slider seems counterintuitive, but it works completely. The sweet waffle dish is also satisfying.
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