Before 190 High Street became All Are Welcome, Northcote’s newest bakery and coffee shop, it was a Christian science reading room, dating to the 1950s.
The cream brick building had the phrase “All Are Welcome” written in gold letters on the front door, so for Boris Portnoy, his new venue had its name from the beginning.
“It feels a bit like a cult, and I sort of wanted it be cultish, in a friendly way, in the perspective of pastries and coffee,” owner and baker Portnoy says.
Sitting inside the bakery, customers get a view of the exposed kitchen, where a small team of two, including Portnoy, prepare for the following day’s bake. “We wanted to take the preciousness away from the baking bread and make it more like a utility,” Portnoy explains. He was intent on designing a bakery rather than a cafe.
Portnoy, who was previously head pastry chef at The Restaurant at Meadowood in the Napa Valley, a three-Michelin star venue, decided to trade fine dining for baking after moving to Melbourne in August 2013.
“I love how in baking every loaf is a little bit different, compared to fine dining where everything is exactly the same,” he says.
All Are Welcome is a collaboration between Portnoy and Mark Free and Aaron Maxwell of Everyday Coffee, whose espresso and batch brew coffee is on the menu.
“The bakery was really conceived for the neighbourhood and to serve the neighbourhood,” says Portnoy. The entrance is tucked off the main road intentionally to create a safer place for dogs and prams, while also providing a small seating area.
Inside, racks are filled with loaves of bread including a San Francisco Sourdough and Seeded Rye Sourdough, and different flatbreads.
“We want people to pick out their own loaves, like a book off a library shelf,” says Portnoy. “I also didn’t just want to do French pastries.” So alongside croissants and cinnamon brioche buns there are ensaïmadas (a sweet spiral pastry from Mallorca in Spain), medovnik (a Czech honey cake) and khachapuri (a traditional cheese-filled bread from the Republic of Georgia).
Portnoy has also developed his own version of a pain au chocolat – a Gianduja Babka Bun. There’s also an assortment of non-sweet options, such as savoury tartines and tarts, as well as housemade jams, chutneys and pickles.
The bright space has retained some of its former fittings too. Portnoy kept pews and wood panelling from the reading room’s adjoining church.
“We didn’t want to erase too much character from the reading room,” he says.
All Are Welcome
190 High Street, Northcote
Mon to Sun 7am–5pm