While most of us associate Malvern with manicured lawns and hectic after-school traffic, a small-scale takeover is quietly in progress. Interesting eateries, coffee vendors and booze shops have all moved in to the 3144.
A leisurely stroll down Claremont Avenue will inevitably arrive at Millstone cafe. Having trained at Le Cordon Blue in Paris, Alice Wright decided to bring the quintessential ingredients of France to Malvern. “I think you can make a good area great by adding beautiful food to it,” she says. “I don’t think Malvern will ever be the ‘it’ spot, but it definitely provides the locals with something different.”
Delicate treats are prepared daily including Ali’s Salted caramel, hazelnut and rhubarb domes and vanilla, lime and raspberry cheesecakes. At lunchtime, Wright also prepares a pick-and-mix feast with options of crispy skin pork belly with poached pears and roast eggplant with pomegranate salad.
Although the cuisine may attempt a trip to Paris, Wright keeps Millstone firmly bound to Malvern. “I named the café after Arthur Ebbott, who ran the first mill and grain store in the 1900s and had several businesses across Malvern,” she explains. “I wanted to pay homage to his legacy instead of giving it some fancy foreign name, and I think it appeals to the history of the area.”
A few doors down is Master of None on Station Street. Owner Tennyson Andrew is a Malvern local, (living only a few blocks from the cafe) and a jack-of-all-trades. Single-handedly transforming an old garage overlooking the station into a warm and inviting espresso bar was no easy task, but Andrew was determined to rejuvenate what was a neglected space. “I was drawn to Malvern's warm sense of community and saw the opportunity to return some of the love”, he says proudly. “I fit out everything, bar the electrics and plumbing.”
Downstairs, locals are refueled with a fresh seasonal menu and Supreme coffee, while upstairs is devoted to the eponymous Tennyson Design studio. The takeaway window is a particularly convenient feature, offering busy commuters heading towards the station a quick fix before the 8.26 to Flinders Street.
Further down Station Street is another new member of the Malvern clan, Green Goose Delicatessen. Selling a variety of food, retail and take-home meals, it’s a solid option for a mid-week dinner. The deli originally earned its popularity as a small Malvern cafe. When owner Con Antonopoulos saw a ‘for sale’ sign right next door, he jumped at the chance to expand. “You rarely have the opportunity to open next to your existing business,” he says. “When this opportunity arose we thought it would be a great promotional tool to have each shop compliment each other by showcasing a range of different products.”
As the sun sets on the suburb, locals have traditionally felt the draw of the city, but Milton Wines is out to prove Malvern can party. The joint venture by Mark Nelson and Toorak Cellars’ Lyndon Kubis serves as both a retail wineshop and a place to drink it. Set within a classic terrace house, Milton has an open fireplace in a comfy private setting with a spacious courtyard. “We chose Malvern because we believe it’s an area that will truly benefit from a place like ours,” says Nelson. “Malvern is changing in a very exciting way. Less young people are leaving to go and live near party hubs, and I think are staying in the ’burbs to hopefully be part of something slightly more cultured but equally as fun.”
The wine bar is decked out with both regional and international bottles and has a friendly and laid-back atmosphere. Milton the dog roams around willing for some cheese platter left-overs, or pizza delivered from the nearby Pizza Gallery.
It’s proof positive that as far as food destinations go, Melbourne’s a lot bigger than Smith Street.