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.
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.