The architect who designed Garden Club on Smith Street had a veto on blonde timber and white walls. Inspired by hedge mazes and French topiary gardens, the space’s textural impasto cement archways and ledges are definitely unlike the fit-outs you’ll see in most Melbourne cafes.
Beneath a green ceiling, wicker seating and wooden tables sit among small houseplants and floral bouquets supplied by Petra Cremming (of Brunswick florist Pomp and Splendour), which are available for purchase.
Walk out back and there’s an enormous courtyard – a novelty in Collingwood. This private (and dog-friendly) green space sits in the shadow of the surrounding apartment buildings and is protected from the noise of the main road. It’s a sanctuary of park-style tables and benches, lined with garden beds and vines.
Food is mainly served from the counter – salads, sandwiches and a moist carrot cake that’s the standout sweet – with coffee by Coffee Supreme.
There are a few hot dishes, including a corned-beef French toast sarnie, mushroom spring rolls with avocado mousse and a poached egg, and the signature Ray’s Hash.