Melbourne’s a city of hole-in-the-wall cafes – ones you stumble upon during errands, after walking down the wrong laneway, or seemingly (and thankfully) just when you’re in desperate need of a coffee. That’s not Matilda.

The new cafe and corner store is in a sleepy suburban pocket of Mont Albert North in Melbourne’s east. This isn’t the kind of place you randomly come across. Jacinta Price – who’s worked in hospitality for nearly 20 years – opened it last year with mates Luke Pantalone and Andrew Carrazzo, drawing inspiration from her travels.

“I’ve travelled to France eight times,” Price says. “I love the culture, the Parisian vibes, the decor – it’s something that’s really attracted me to [Paris], and I wanted to bring what I’ve seen and loved back to Melbourne.”

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Taking over an old milk bar, the team designed the space and did the fit-out themselves, with help from their dads. Pantalone and Carrazzo are both in the trade industry and worked on the blue cabinetry, electrical work, floors, bench tops and painting the whole building. Price’s parents also lent a hand, and her partner worked on the branding and signage.

At the front is a main counter whose glass cabinet is piled high with sandwiches and treats. Batches of apple cinnamon scrolls and sweet and savoury scones are made fresh each morning, with brownies and cakes (the hazelnut espresso cake is a bestseller) baked later in the day.

There’s a variety of bagels – egg and bacon, a vegan version, haloumi, and smoked salmon – alongside a classic ham-and-cheese toastie; the Matilda toastie, which matches roasted pumpkin with kale, vegan feta and onion jam; and a baguette of the day. There’s also a trio of salads that changes daily. All the sandwiches can be made gluten-free on request, and half of the menu is vegan.

“I’m vegan and I really struggle to go anywhere and get good food, good coffee, good cakes all in one place – it’s usually something small or the usual you’ve already seen before,” Price says. “Anyone that has a dietary requirement, we’ll be able to look after them.”

The rest of the cafe’s front room houses homewares from local makers such as Robert Gordon pottery, Make Scents of It candles, Emma Kate Co planners, vases from Marmoset Found, and Alignment affirmation cards. There are also cookbooks for sale, and food and drink products from Holy Crumpets, St David Dairy, Orchard St, Love Tea, Monday Distillery and Jam Lady Jam.

Further into the space is the main dusty-blue dining room, where a large communal dining table, built by Price’s dad when she was five years old, takes pride of place. Here you can order from Matilda’s main menu, which includes overnight oats with blackberry compote and coconut crumble; breakfast toast with soft-boiled eggs, lemon ricotta, dukkah and cherry tomatoes; avocado with house-made chilli oil on sourdough; and the Take Me to Paris set, featuring a mini bowl of oats, a croissant, jam and cultured butter, washed down with fresh orange juice and Inglewood coffee.

There are also seats under a line of bright yellow umbrellas out front, and occasional picnic spreads for the lawn on warm summer days.

Matilda Mont Albert
15 Arcade Road, Mont Albert North
(03) 7016 1783

Hours:
Mon to Fri 7.30am–3pm
Sat & Sun 8am–3pm

matildamontalbert.com.au