To be honest, Centre Road in East Bentleigh isn’t the kind of place you would write home about. Littered with graffiti-strewn brick and weathered signs, it wasn’t until new cafe The Merchants Guild came along (emerging in the place of an old $2 shop), that the strip found itself a destination point in which to gather, eat and socialise. The new establishment from Mario Minichilli and Vincent Conti (the team who brought us the original Inkr7) is an industrial delight in an otherwise barren landscape – not dissimilar to Inkerman Street before they put their touch on it.
With its wooden checkerboard tables, exposed kitchen and considered menu, it’s a cool and comfortable place for locals to catch up for breakfast or lunch.
The food (prepared by chef and co-owner Paul Davies) and drinks are served in style. Meals are presented on wooden platters, egg timers accompany teapots (ensuring the tea brews for the ideal length of time), and clever touches like jalapeno pesto and rotating variations of hollandaise keep things interesting.
But it’s Minichilli and Conti’s famed Prana Chai that is the real calling card here. With the recipe carefully perfected after several tastings across the globe, the aroma of this delicious blend will inspire you to forgo your usual coffee order in a heartbeat. You can even watch the team preparing the mix in-house. As Conti explains, “This is where we hone our craft.”
The Merchants Guild
680 Centre Road, Bentleigh East
(03) 9579 0734