Though it’s not uncommon to find eateries at the base of apartment complexes, they’re often run by an independent operator. But when local developer Assemble Communities was planning a diner for its Kensington project, the team decided to keep things in-house.

“We’ve been thinking a lot about how we can provide a scaffold for the community and bordering neighbourhood precinct,” says Assemble’s head of place and experience, Ingrid Langtry. The solution was to create a cafe – called Cassette – that serves as a multipurpose space, complete with video screens and projectors for movie nights or presentations, plus co-working-friendly areas, as well as a dynamic, all-day food and drink offering.

They partnered with Six Degrees to design the space, which includes a restored art deco facade (originally by prolific architect Harry Norris), reclaimed materials throughout, and room for up to 100 people.

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It was also important that the cafe uphold Assemble’s values – particularly when it comes to sustainability. Through a seasonal, hyperlocal and stripped-back menu, Cassette produces close to no waste, and what little it does produce is composted on-site.

“My food ethos is just about keeping things as simple as possible,” says head chef Laura Boulton. “The less you fuck with it, the better the flavours are gonna be and therefore, by proxy, you have a lot less waste.”

Pickles, preserves and ferments feature prominently in dishes like Korean-style steamed egg custard with kimchi-pickled mushrooms, or the cheesy sourdough “UK muffin” with pickled zucchini, preserved lemon and locally farmed greens. “We’ve got the flexibility of a global menu but 90 per cent of what we use in the kitchen is from Victoria,” says Boulton.

The fried Mount Macedon eggs with maple bacon and smoky jalapeno kraut
is another highlight – with a coffee-spiked spin. It makes the most of excess espresso shots to braise the meat and flavour the eggs while in-shell. “You get all of these beautiful aromatic nuances from the coffee, but none of the sort of heady, bitter flavours,” says Boulton. “It just goes right through the protein of the white and sinks itself into the yolk.” You’ll also find DIY sushi bowls and loaded hunks of potato rosti.

Coffee is by Seven Seeds and wine – which is mostly Victorian and served from stainless-steel wine cylinders to minimise glass waste – is from Tap. It’s paired with a small selection of bar bites on Thursday and Friday nights, though Cassette has plans to extend evening trade in line with demand.

The name, inspired by the site’s former life as Dex Audio, was a direct result of community feedback – local residents voted for their top pick and “Cassette” won by a landslide.

399 Macaulay Road, Kensington

Mon to Wed 7am–3pm
Thu & Fri 7am–8pm
Sat & Sun 8am–3pm