The name Akimbo might ring a bell. What started as a lockdown hustle for Sunda-trained chef-owner Lindsay Oates blew up fast. He’s gone from selling slow-fermented country loaves, hot cross buns and fougasse on Instagram to supplying some of Melbourne’s top restaurants and bars – including Aru, Bar Bellamy and Sunhands.

Now he’s scaled up again, opening a bricks-and-mortar retail space on Victoria Road in Northcote, along with business partner and friend Louis McCoy.

At the new Akimbo Bread, everything is baked in a huge Italian Mondial Forni oven, which Oates says is one of only three in Melbourne. Bread, of course, is the star of the show. You’ll find the coveted country and seeded sourdough loaves, plus a host of other Akimbo standards – like fougasses, tartines and pizzettas – with new creative flourishes: “regulars that change their colours” seasonally, Oates says. So far, these have included a tartine with crème fraîche, asparagus and herb salad; pizzetta with spiced cauliflower, caramelised shallots and curry leaves; and polenta-coated fougasse brushed with garlic oil. On weekends, there’s also fluffy focaccia and fruit bread.

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On the sweeter side, there are crowd-pleasing cardamom buns, and brown-butter cookies studded with macadamia nuts and Hunted & Gathered chocolate. Oates plans to expand the range, starting over the holidays with mince tarts and gingerbread.

Cold or hot batch-brew coffee comes from micro-roastery Fieldwork, and a retail section stocks preserves including Oates’s mother’s marmalade, mustard and take-home coffee beans. Soon, there’ll be a bar fridge stocking goods, like hummus, that pair well with bread.

McCoy, a builder by trade – who co-founded and built stages for independent Victorian dance festival Inner Varnika – is behind the store’s bright fit-out, with its off-white terrazzo tiles and burnt sienna details. Morning sunshine floods through big open windows, emblazoned with a decal of Akimbo’s trademark bread boy. Inside, there’s a timber bench by the window where you can perch yourself with coffee and a treat.

Although Oates plans to keep up the wholesale operation – he’s hired a new baker to help expand to even more restaurants – the main focus right now is the new shop, where you can expect to see fresh sandwiches, laminated pastries and chef collaborations in future.

Akimbo Bread
205a Victoria Road, Northcote
No phone

Hours:
Wed to Sat 7.30am–2pm

akimbobread.com