Tucked away inside the otherwise unremarkable Midtown Plaza (just off Swanston Street), the very stylish Mister Close (close, as in not far away) is already hitting the right notes with CBD office workers, students and locals with their friendly, owner-run service, solid Campos coffee and vibrant cafe fare.
The business is a passionate partnership between two old friends and hospitality veterans, chef Peter Knowles and front-of-house man James English. The two met as school kids and named the place in homage to their favourite Year 8 geography teacher, the no doubt very chuffed Mister Close.
The imaginative, vintage-meets-futuristic classroom aesthetic was realised by local architects and designers, Russell & George. Replete with cloister-like ceilings, old maps, study nooks and piles of books, the space manages to feel spacious but still intimate, with a smattering of geometrically misshapen tables and chairs, warm lighting and just enough distance from the street to feel cosseted away from the mad bustle of the city.
Knowles’ super-fresh menu is broad, ever changing and seasonal. Regulars of Gertrude Street’s popular Arcadia will be familiar with his style – Knowles was once the owner-chef there. The huge, glass-fronted display cabinet boasts chunky Dench toasties, tasty tagines and colourful salads, while the gorgeous selection of house-made cakes, slices and muffins will no doubt satiate many a 3pm, workaday sugar slump.
Serving breakfast, lunch and corporate ‘lunch orders’, Mister Close is one teacher you’ll want to get onside with.
Shop 13, Midtown Plaza
246 Bourke Street, Melbourne
(03) 9654 7778