Are you sitting in a cafe right now? (If you’re not – just be cool and play along, will you?). Now look around you. What do you see? Are the walls white, cool and tiled, like the inside of a New York deli? Or have you opted for somewhere a bit grungier – a fan chopping drunkenly above rock posters and comfy, worn couches? Why do you think you’ve chosen this particular place? Is it walking distance from your house? Is the staff particularly good looking? Is the coffee the best in the area?
No doubt it’s a combination of all these things – although the kind of cafes we gravitate towards, the spaces that we feel most comfortable sitting in – and being seen to sit in – does say something about us. Andrew Kelly (of Auction Rooms and the soon-to-be-opened Filter in the CBD) suggests that “people in Melbourne think they’re coffee lovers but in fact, they love cafes”. Sure, we think we’ve got a pretty good handle on our single-origin pour-overs – and you probably do – but there is still so much potential, yet to be discovered, in those little beans. Kelly is getting ready to change the way we drink coffee, putting the espresso machine to the side and placing filter coffee front and centre.
Speaking of change, we’re seeing a spate of exciting new food trends reach unprecedented heights in Melbourne; Korean food is set to explode into the mainstream with the launch of Chris Lucas’s Kong in March, and we’re about to experience vegan dining like we’ve never known it thanks to Smith & Daughters. The ‘hawker food’ trend is as big as we’ve ever seen it, but we have to ask: if Melbourne is so open-minded about food, why don’t we have an authentic street-food culture here?
Looking outside the city, we hop over to the Otways to spend a day with Dan Hunter at his new restaurant Brae, catch up with roaming gallerist Joseph Allen Shea at his new Parisian art space, and check into Canberra’s meticulously considered design haven, Hotel Hotel.
Okay, finish your coffee (you’re still in the cafe, remember?) and order another. We hope you enjoy this issue as much as we enjoyed making it (and that you don’t get too distracted by the wait staff).