“Ebenezer is actually my grandfather’s middle name, and it was his father’s name," Duncan Thompson explains, sitting at a sunny table outside of his bayside restaurant, Ebenezer Coffee and Wine Bar. Black Rock’s iconic clock tower looms overhead and just beyond is the crystalline waters of Port Phillip Bay.
After 20 years in hospitality, overseeing food and wine at Giant Steps Winery and the Arts Centre, Thompson decided it was time to strike out on his own.
The result is a delicate balancing act. Ebenezer Coffee and Wine Bar bridges the divide between cafe and bar, infusing the modern dining experience with the old-school hospitality of Thompson’s grandfather’s era.
Perhaps the most distinguishing feature of Ebenezer is the modern industrial design, which comes from Eades&Bergman.
“Our brief to them was: let’s try and build something that’s not a replica of other cafes,” Thompson says.
Full of dark wood and wrought iron, there is a great level of detail at play in Ebenezer. The furniture is all custom made by VN Projects, and the “slate” tiles on the walls, on closer inspection, are actually thickly painted corrugated cardboard – an Eades&Bergman signature. A brass cladding wraps the entire building, which will age to a soft patina.
Thompson has called in his connections from his years in the wine industry to build an impressive list that features small-batch wines from some of Victoria’s best producers.
The Lana Pinot Grigio from Alfred Pizzini of Pizzini Wines is perfect for a balmy summer night. If you’re looking for a red, Thompson suggests the Halls Gap Estate Cab Sauvignon from Dan Buckle of Domaine Chandon.
Afternoons and evenings focus on share dishes. Thick slices of Noîsette sourdough with aged balsamic and EVOO or the house-marinated Mount Zero olives are perfect if you’re just looking for some picky bits. For something more filling, there’s steamed Portarlington mussels with fennel and chorizo.
The breakfast options are substantial with a stand-out spin on eggs Benedict served with a hash brown and chive hollandaise. Caffeine fans will be happy to know that Ebenezer’s blend has been specially developed by Seven Seeds head roaster Aaron Wood to make the perfect strong latte.
Come summer, the high benches running along the window will be the perfect spot to enjoy a glass of wine and watch the sun go down over the bay.
Ebenezer Coffee and Wine Bar
615 Balcombe Road, Black Rock
(03) 9589 3235
Tue to Thu 7am–4pm
Fri to Sun 7am–late