Just a few sandy footsteps from the volleyball courts at South Melbourne beach is sunny coastal cafe Pineapple Palm. The gleaming spot is at the base of a new apartment block on Beaconsfield Parade, and while the interior is fresh, the friendly staff don’t mind if you bring a bit of the beach in with you.
“We don’t mind if people come in with sand all over them. We don’t mind if they come in with no shoes on,” says owner Adam Summerville who before opening Pineapple Palm was the managing director of Emirates Leisure Retail, working to install hospitality venues in airports across Australia, New Zealand and throughout Asia.
Summerville says the café’s name was not only inspired by the dozens of pineapple palm trees that line the coast, but also from the fruit’s historical symbology – pineapples were a rare commodity in colonial America and a host’s ability to share one with guests was considered a sign of bountiful hospitality.
Lucas Caporal (ex-Red Spice Road) developed the menu, blending his Asian cooking experience with his Brazilian roots. There’s Korean chicken bao with house-made chilli sauce; a Chilean-style hot dog with chorizo, avocado and tomato salsa; chilli scrambled eggs; and nasi goreng.
Since opening late last year, Summerville and his business partner and wife Kylie have adjusted the menu to suit the local customers.
“We’ve found by being in the area that there’s a lot of health-conscious bodies around Albert Park,” he says. “So … we were pretty quick to add a couple more healthy things in – but you can definitely indulge while being fed well.”
If there’s a standout, it goes to Caporal’s Brazilian cheese bread. The round, palm-sized doughballs are Brazil’s answer to a Cheesymite Scroll. Each serve of three arrives hot with a side of St David’s Dairy butter and a dollop of Vegemite. They’re dense but the use of tapioca flour (gluten-free) keeps them light.
Freshly-squeezed juices arrive in pineapple-style glasses and there’s Vietnamese-style coffee, and breakfast cocktails too. Coffee is by specialty coffee roasters St Remio.
“It’s actually fairly strong,” Summerville explains. “We wanted to go with something that cuts through milk.”
Patrick Torcasio of Torca is behind the fit out. A stretch of bench seating and whitewashed timber walls envelop the beach box-feel interior, and pier rope light fittings stretch over the dining area. Floor-to-ceiling windows overlook a beachside playground, splashing the relaxed space with light.
“We didn’t want it to be too beach-y. We didn’t want surfboards or anything like that so we kind of went for that beach industrial look,” Summerville says. “It’s just pretty relaxed.”
88 Beaconsfield Parade, Albert Park
(03) 9077 4601
Mon to Fri, 7am–3pm
Sat & Sun, 7am–4pm