On the list of cool places to run a cafe, a retirement building is at the wrong end. But if you know what you’re doing – and the couple behind Providence does – it doesn’t really matter.
Michael and Eleena Tan part-own Hero Subs and The Grain Store. This experience shines clearly through the 80-seat space, which is decorated with bentwood chairs and playful portraits of fruit and veg. On another wall, a framed print lists what’s currently in season. This pretty much sums up Providence, which has an admirable dedication to fresh food and small producers, such as Gamze Smallgoods and Barham Avocados.
Chef Cate Hardman (ex-Sarti) doesn't have a set lunch menu; she just makes whatever she feels like, depending on what's available. Breakfast (until 3pm) is more consistent, offering granola and porridge alongside dishes such as berry clafoutis with rose water and bitey rhubarb ice cream; a clever salad with avocado and ham hock; and pumpkin and lentil fritters. For those in a hurry, the Shelf of Plenty displays Dr Marty’s crumpets, toasties, brioche and other baked goods, while Code Black supplies the coffee.