Twelve months ago Nick Peters and Camron Green opened Melbourne’s first toast cafe. It sounded like a gimmick, but it wasn’t. With combinations such as pear, walnut and blue cheese served on inch-thick sourdough, Crompton Coffee’s seven varieties of toast were (and still are) much better than what you’d whack together in your own kitchen.
But customers just wanted more, and eventually they started asking Peters and Green for more-substantial options.
In February the duo hired chef Abraham Saavedra, last seen at Bomba and Añada. He’s broadened Crompton’s menu by adding dishes such as smoked salmon with pickled fennel, orange and watercress; eggs benedict with bacon, béarnaise sauce and apple; and smashed avocado with goat’s cheese and crushed almonds.
“People go out for breakfast in Melbourne and expect certain things on the menu – poached eggs, smashed avo,” Peters says. “We’ve developed a culture that really expects that. It’s the benchmark you have to obtain.”
The ironic thing is, both those things are always served on toast. They are toast dishes, just as much as pear, walnut and blue cheese is. Crompton’s concept hasn’t changed radically – it’s just moved into more familiar territory.
All this isn’t to say a specialised food concept can’t work. There are plenty of cafes thriving on a few vareties of bagel or sandwich, such as 5 & Dime and Everyday Coffee. But they’re found in higher-density areas, where there are other cafes with more extensive or more filling choices.