Geoffrey Bawa was a Sri Lankan architect who popularised “tropical modernism”, a design style that blends buildings with the natural landscape.

The owners of BAWA, a cafe in Hawthorn, have adopted more than just his name, and have created a space in which nature rules. Leafy plants burst from light fittings. Jungle prints hang on the walls.

“We knew the windows along this street-side wall could completely open, so we wanted to bring the outside inside,” says co-owner Shri Bhagwandas, previously of Dukes Coffee Roasters, of the design.

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Bhagwandas runs the new cafe with Sahely brothers, Kael and Matt, and their father Elias (collectively of Barry, Square and Compass, ex-Pillar of Salt) and co-owner-head chef, Chris Griffiths (ex-Three Bags Full).

The menu is as clever as you’d expect from such a group. The chia pudding with rosewater and passionfruit foam is summery and light. The potato roesti with braised pork, eggs and a florescent-green herby hollandaise is a hearty option.

The coffee is Dukes, naturally, and there are some creative options beyond the normal flat white. A shot of espresso is mixed with tonic water, a squeeze of lime and a dash of sugar syrup to create the Black Tonic. Iced coffees come with a specially made skim milk that has been whipped to foam, a little like a Greek frappe.

248 Burwood Road, Hawthorn
(03) 9819 6701

Mon to Sat 7am–4pm
Sun 8am–4pm