Each time Nate Campbell and Anthony Forsyth call their new Ripponlea venture a “cafe”, they quickly autocorrect to “venue”.
The Undercover Roasters team, who also own Short Straw in Hawthorn and Collective Espresso in Camberwell, purchased Ripponlea favourite Hawk and Hunter in October last year. Over Christmas they renovated and rebranded it into Turning Point – a cafe by day, dinner and wine spot by night.
Behind the coffee machine and cake cabinet is a fully stocked bar, and towards the back of the space glass doors protect racks of a few dozen wines.
With a bright and spacious dining area, Turning Point seats 95 people, comfortably. And that was a goal right from the outset.
“Some places are all about getting customers in and out,” says Forsyth. “Not us.” The pair wants Turning Point to be a place for locals to sit all day if they want, hence the spread of comfortable and cushy upholstered chairs.
Yes, there’s also lots of blonde timber here too, and the walls are white and grey. It’s a look that’s ubiquitous yet consumer-proven in Melbourne, and it works when bathed in natural light, as it is here.
The eye-catcher is a partition wall of sandy-coloured Tasmanian oak timber slats, which flow through the middle of the large room, dividing it into slightly more intimate pockets. Down the back is a room with a long communal table, with black and white Mickey Mouse cartoons projected onto one of the massive white walls.
“This area is very much for young families,” says Campbell.
Forsyth says that one customer had lamented the loss of the old Hawk and Hunter kid’s corner. But Campbell and Forsyth assure diners that, alongside the cartoons, there are other treats for your (inner) child.
The group’s executive chef is a self-confessed “big kid”, and now, after having worked for Jacques Reymond for five years, then heading the kitchen at Oakridge Wines, his food has turned a little more playful.
Jose Chavez, who’s expecting his fourth child, has put cocoa pops on the menu, though they don’t quite taste like a crunchy chocolate milkshake. His version is a light vegan coconut chocolate mousse with banana, puffed rice, toasted seeds and chocolate milk.
Chavez also recommends the Peaches and Cream – three grilled peach halves with generous dollops of whipped ricotta, topped with corn flakes with truffled honey, fairy floss and pipettes of strawberry syrup.
On the opposite end of the spectrum there’s a very adult truffle scramble with smoked trout and Yarra Valley caviar. Wash it down with an “Aperol Ritz” made with sparkling rosé.
8/10 Glen Eira Ave, Ripponlea
(03) 9528 2719
Mon to Wed 7am–4pm
Thu to Fri 7am–9pm
Sat & Sun 8am–9pm