Vertue Coffee Roasters
Vertue has one of the best reveals in town. After strolling through a petrol station car park and passing a dilapidated terrace, Vertue's historic timber doors suddenly loom large, crowned by a glorious old street lamp.
The space was originally a stable, and more recently, a house. With help from Two Design, owner Mike Cracknell converted the old brick building and a gravel carpark next door into one of Melbourne's more unique spaces in 2015. The cafe is named after a handbill circulated in London in 1657, talking up the medicinal properties of coffee – hence the funny spelling of "virtue".
At the front, the old stable is now a sizeable coffee bar and waiting area. Here you can can pick up homebrew paraphenalia, an almond croissant or other fancy pastry, or simple eyeball the buckets of freshly-roasted beans displayed under the counter (the roaster sits in the main dining area). As you'd expect, batch brews, pour overs and other specialty coffee favourites are all available.
The food menu is innovative. Yes, you can get plain toast with spreads, or toy soldiers for kids. But the focus here is unusual dishes such as tamarind prawn toast with betel leaf, or brioche French toast with strawberry coulis. Each dish comes with a suggested drink pairing, from whole young coconut and filter coffee to Aperol Spritz and pinot grigio.