When Zume Pham and Amy Vo first met, they bonded over a love of brunch and minimalist, functional design. Now they’ve opened Öppen – a Windsor cafe filled with the clean lines of a Scandinavian aesthetic serving the region’s signature open sandwiches.
The worlds of hospitality and design are a natural fit for Pham, who before falling in love with hospitality while working junior positions in the kitchens of Seven Seeds and Circa at The Prince Hotel, planned to become a mechanical engineer.
Pham and Vo were interested in referencing the ideals of Danish designers such as Hans Wegner (known for his modernist chairs) and were also taken with the concept of lagom meaning “just the right amount”, a Swedish philosophy of living a well-balanced life. Öppen’s design balances natural light with raw, rustic oak; concrete; and stone. And its muted pink walls, greenery, simple cabinetry and communal tables create the feeling of hygge a Danish and Norwegian word expressing cosy conviviality.
On a trip in March to Denmark, Norway and Sweden Pham and Vo discovered smørrebrød and decided to open their own place in Melbourne serving the open sandwich.
Typically, Danish smørrebrød are a slice of dense and sour rye bread that is buttered thinly and topped with cured meat or fish, cheese, pickles and garnishes. While Pham’s menu isn’t rigorously Scandinavian, he did spend six months perfecting the recipe for his Danish rye bread, but uses spelt flour for a lighter touch. He’s also interested in adapting smørrebrød for an Australian audience.
“I’m influenced by the ideas of Scandinavia but not chasing pure Scandinavian,” says Pham, whose menu has a mix of culinary influences. On the section devoted to smørrebrød – which offers eight kinds – there’s heirloom tomatoes with herbed labneh and Thai basil. And the avocado smørrebrød comes with Danish feta, dukkah and crunchy vegemite shards. The more traditional topping of cured salmon and crème fraîche has a Japanese twist with pickled daikon and shiso.
The all-day menu also offers Nordic spelt granola with skyr (Icelandic yoghurt); buckwheat waffles with generous swathes of cacao sauce, saffron pear and Willy Wonka-esque popping liquorice; and a vegan cauliflower steak with quinoa, charred broccoli and sunflower cream. There’s also the Öppen Burger with a Wagyu patty, smoked cheddar, onion jam, truffle sauce and fries. If you want a little of everything the Scandi Board comes with slices of rye, scrambled eggs, avocado, Danish feta, cured salmon, preserved vegetables and skyr granola.
Coffee is by Disciple Roasters, the production arm of Monk Bodhi Dharma, Admiral Cheng-ho and Bayano the Rebel. Cocktails are also a thing. Go for a Lingonberry Bellini, or enjoy drinks with names in Danish and Norwegian, such as Nordkapp/North Cape (Four Pillars gin, Lillet Blanc, house-made spiced aquavit and a dash of grapefruit bitters) or Fersken/Peach (mezcal, peach liquor, peach coulis, lime and prosecco).
20/2 Maddock Street, Windsor
(03) 9077 0430
Mon to Fri 6.30am–4pm
This article first appeared on Broadsheet on February 5, 2019. Menu items may have changed since publication.