Just a few minutes walk from Sandringham Beach, you’ll find a bright new cafe occupying what was formerly a real estate agency.
Port of Call is already filled with bayside locals, despite only opening a few days ago. That’s to be expected from the team that in recent years has opened some of Melbourne’s most popular cafes: Touchwood, Tall Timber, Coin Laundry, and more recently Carnegie’s Left Field and Elwood’s Plain Sailing.
But even if you didn’t know its pedigree, Port of Call is inviting on its own merits. Spacious and warm, it manages to feel contemporary and fresh but also comfortable, like it’s been on this stretch of Bay Road for much longer than a week.
“The interior focus has been about going light and bright,” says Steve Rowley, who owns the cafe with Matthew Vero, Kerrie Townley and Kenny Oliver. He describes it as a modernisation and “growing up of the feel that has made Left Field so popular”.
That means materials not used in the other venues, such as colourful floor tiles and green upholstery, mixed in with their favourites: terrazzo, blackbutt timber.
Together with interior designer Fiona Drago, the team embarked on a significant amount of structural work to open up the building’s rear to “let the morning light in”, which has paid off.
Fans of Plain Sailing and Left Field will be happy here, food-wise, but they’ll also find new additions on a menu conceived by co-head chefs Rachel Jones and Kristy Turner, who were sous chefs at Plain Sailing.
Spiced pumpkin waffles – topped with a dollop of citrus mascarpone and encircled by a ring of seeds, fresh berries and edible petals – and a dish of pea and zucchini fritters have been early hits. Come lunch, try the vegetarian fried cauliflower tacos loaded with avocado, charred cauliflower purée, daikon, pickled onion, herb slaw and crispy shallots.
“Our goal is to always find new and interesting sites in areas where there isn't an overly similar offering,” Rowley says of the bayside locale. Already the customer base has been diverse, from commuters grabbing a takeaway coffee as they run for the train, to mums having brunch, to older Sandringham locals.
“We've had them all in over the last few days,” he says. “Our key focus will always be to tailor the offering to locals as they will really be the backbone if Port of Call is going to stand tall on the corner long into the future.”
Port of Call
7 Bay Road, Sandringham
(03) 9533 4657
Mon to Fri 7am–4pm
Sat & Sun 7.30am–4.30pm
This article first appeared on Broadsheet on June 15, 2018. Menu items may have changed since publication.