Square and Compass
Until Square and Compass came along, there wasn’t too much happening in hospital-heavy East Melbourne.
Thankfully, the first people to do something about it (Kael Sahely, Matt Stribley and head chef Jeremy Fraser) had links with respected cafes such as Porgie & Mr Jones, Pillar of Salt, Touchwood and Northcote’s Barry.
Square and Compass has a broadly similar feel to that Northcote favourite, from the health-conscious menu to the uncluttered room. There’s just one crucial difference: a slight touch of old world. Most of that feel is down to the building – a gorgeous red-brick terrace. Inside, the tables sit on solid cast-iron bases and a regal terrazzo floor, while patrons are heated by oil radiators or cooled from above by spinning fans, rather than air-conditioning.
Likewise the menu isn’t zealously contemporary, with dishes such as tarts and omelettes getting a run alongside trendier items, including an ancient-grain salad and ricotta and cacao hotcakes with whipped cream, sour cherries and strawberries.
During the week a good number of these healthy items are available to take away for the convenience of the many doctors, nurses and patients in the area. The espresso is made with Seven Seeds blends, while the filter comes from Promised Land, a lesser-known roaster in Collingwood which specialises in filter.