2000 to 2010 was a watershed decade for Melbourne. The cosmopolitan spirit that had been simmering away since the ’80s finally boiled over, culminating with a new wave of affordable yet high-quality restaurants such as Cumulus Inc.
At the same time, the cafe culture we’re so renowned for today was coming into focus. Small-batch coffee roasters sprouted across the city, and chefs took the opportunity to push breakfast beyond cereal, toast, bacon and eggs.
Melbourne was leaving its provincial past behind to play in the same league as great cities such as London, New York and Tokyo.
Broadsheet started because we saw these exciting things happening across the city, and not enough people writing about them. Ten years on, it’s no surprise to us that many of the seminal businesses from this time are still going strong today.
In Carlton, Seven Seeds is now the head of a group that includes Traveller and Brother Baba Budan in the city, and a wholesale roasting operation in Fairfield that supplies cafes all across town. The HQ’s rich, toffee-like espressos and interesting yet restrained menu feel as vital as ever.
Likewise, Collingwood’s Proud Mary – one of the first cafes we ever wrote about – has spawned Aunty Peg’s a few blocks east; Stagger Lee’s a few blocks west; and Proud Mary in Portland, Oregon, 13,000 kilometres across the Pacific. Proud’s continuing focus on rare heirloom coffees makes it one of the most exciting players in today’s scene.
Market Lane, another 2009 baby, has expanded from one outlet at the Prahran Market to six across Melbourne, and Balaclava’s Monk Bodhi Dharma now counts the equally excellent Admiral Cheng-Ho (Abbotsford) and Bayano the Rebel (South Yarra) as younger siblings. Wide Open Road is still killing it in Brunswick.
With hindsight, we can see what a bellwether Andrew McConnell’s Cutler & Co was for Fitzroy’s rise to culinary prominence. And after a 2017 refresh, it feels as sharp as ever. Visit the front bar for abalone katsu sandos, or take to the dim back room for one of the city’s best dinners.
Down the road, Mission Australia’s social enterprise Charcoal Lane has spent 10 years providing on-the-job to training for Indigenous and disadvantaged youth while serving impressively presented dishes of kangaroo, emu and other game paired with local flora.
In the city, HuTong’s dumplings (the xiaolong bao particularly) remain some of the city’s best, and the subterranean cool that made Coda and Izakaya Den so desirable in 2009 hasn’t waned. Up in Brunswick East, Bar Idda’s roster of Sicilian classics is as comforting and affordable as ever.
This story originally appeared in Melbourne print issue 28.