Restaurants, cafes and bars continue to pop up along the once neglected strip of Johnston Street running east from Smith Street to Hoddle Street. Bayte is Middle Eastern café that has only been open for about a month, but is already a popular breakfast and lunch spot for locals. And with good reason – Bayte offers a welcome alternative to the standard brunch options on offer at cafes across Melbourne.
The split-level cafe stays true to its name, which translates to ‘house’ in Arabic. It is cosy, welcoming and littered with Lebanese cookbooks and coffee pots. There’s plenty of seating, with a communal table for lager groups and cute courtyard out the back to soak up any straggling rays of winter sun.
The menu stays true to chef Julie Tourna’s Lebanese roots, with not a skerrick of smashed avocado in sight. Instead, Middle Eastern flavours are showcased with aplomb. Try the beyd bil zaatar (poached eggs with zaatar, served with gorgeously flaky flatbread made on the premises), pumpkin kibbeh (a sort of pumpkin cake made with rice and spices) and a generous scoop of homemade babaganoush.
Bored with BLTs? The lamb kofta wrap is an incredibly good lunch alternative. Just-pink lamb koftas are paired with the mouth-watering additions of parsley, onion and lemon, wrapped in that delicious flat bread. It’s served with creamy yoghurt and is a bargain at under $10.
There are plenty of mezze options too, which would make for a lovely lazy lunch. With a liquor license in the pipeline and opening hours for dinner on the horizon, we’re looking forward to exploring the flavours of Lebanon for breakfast, lunch and, eventually, dinner.
56 Johnston Street, Collingwood
(03) 9415 8818
Mon, Wed, Thu 5.30pm–10pm
Fri, Sat & Sun 11.30am–3.30pm and 5.30pm-11pm