Melbourne is in the midst of a small-time pie renaissance courtesy of outfits such as Prince’s Pies, Wonderpop & Deli and Matt Wilkinson’s Pie Shop. And yet, good handmade pies aren’t as available as Aaron Donato and Scott Blomfield would have liked. So in June they opened Pie Thief in Footscray. And though it hasn’t been around for long, it’s already muscled its way to the forefront of the “best pies in town” conversation.
Donato owns Bar Josephine next door and Blomfield, a chef, has worked across Melbourne, most recently at Supernormal. One look at Pie Thief’s mascot (a hungry, dopey-looking orange monster) will tell you that these hospitality professionals are clearly relishing the opportunity to take themselves less seriously.
Try the lasagne pie – pastry walls filled with bolognaise and béchamel, topped with a layer of lasagne and crunchy cheese – and you’ll be convinced. A vegan pumpkin and tofu-cheddar pie is another standout, and the rest of the menu’s rounded out with classics: steak and cheese, bacon and egg, and chicken curry.
Can’t decide? Order a party pie tasting paddle with four different flavours. Coffee comes from Code Black, and classic milkshakes are available too. The small space is definitely geared towards taking away, which is a shame. The walls and signage – bright magenta and cyan like at a ’90s bowling alley – are almost as nostalgic as the pies.
297 Barkly Street, Footscray
Mon to Sat 7am–4pm
Holy Crumpets is another cafe reimagining a childhood classic. Though preceded by crumpet wholesalers such as Dr Marty’s, it’s Melbourne’s first dedicated crumpet cafe.
At just six metres squared, the place is tiny. But for owner Josh Clements, it’s actually an upsize. After spending six months working on his recipe, he debuted his crumpets at a small stall at the Coburg Market. After selling out in 45 minutes he knew he was onto something.
The crazy demand for something as everyday as a crumpet comes down to Clements’s dedication to high quality ingredients. “We play a slow game. Cutting corners just doesn’t interest me,” Clements told Broadsheet back in May. It takes him 24 hours to prepare his crumpet dough, which is made using whole-wheat and freshly milled stoneground flour.
The result is the ideal crumpet: a rigid, crisp disc holding up a dense and chewy top layer, porous enough to allow any number of toppings to melt and seep into. Those toppings include bloodwood honey from Gippsland or house-made jam. For something more elaborate, there’s a s’more-inspired option. It combines chocolate, graham cracker and toasted marshmallow. Try the grilled taleggio crumpet for something savoury.
5 Little Latrobe Street, Melbourne
Mon to Fri 6.30am–2.30pm (or until sold out)
Records and coffee don’t have anything in common, but together they just seem to work. At Counterweight you can grab a coffee or eat a toastie while you’re crate digging.
The store is owned by DJs Rob “SpinFx” Graham and Sam “D-Gen” Hastings. Naturally, the stock reflects what they like to play and listen to. There’s an emphasis on drum‘n’bass, jungle, dubstep, hip-hop, house and techno. Record prices start at as low as $1. There’s also a range of analogue accessories including needle cartridges, cleaning supplies and spare record sleeves.
There are pretzels, doughnuts and cookies from Cobb Lane and an ever-changing line-up of toasties. There were two options when we visited: havarti (a semi-soft cow’s-milk cheese), spinach, mushrooms and truffle oil, and salami and sauerkraut.
You can take away almost anything at Counterweight – if any of the plants in the shop take your fancy, they’re available for purchase too.
32 Chambers Street, Footscray
0409 336 251
Mon to Fri 8am–6pm
This story originally appeared in Melbourne print issue 27.