Behind the rambling old Toorak Uniting Church is the manse of Kinross House. Way back in 1876, the manse was built for the church’s first minister to live with his family. After more than 100 years of clergy in the house, in 2004 Uniting Arts Toorak was established on the premises, providing a space for a small gallery and cafe on ground level, and room for light artists’ studios upstairs.
Just over a month ago friends Coila Lilley and Jill McWhinney moved in to open a small cafe in the historic 19th century house, reestablishing it as Manse Gallery Cafe. Built on a love of food and enjoying it with friends, the quaint and humble cafe sits in the bright sunroom on the ground floor, with chairs scattered out in the secluded garden setting.
Cooking together on a daily basis, these local ladies begin by collecting things from the market, then scribbling a few daily specials up on the blackboard with what they have. It’s simple and might include things like eggs on toast with bacon and avocado; pizza with ricotta and fig; orange and poppy-seed cake; or sausage rolls. Little bags of salted nuts, muesli or biscotti can be taken home for a few dollars too.
It feels like home here; like your mum got in the kitchen and made you breakfast, and there’s something so comforting about it. And since it’s a bit of stretch from the next strip of shops, it’s a bit of a destination cafe – a little secluded and tucked away, but perhaps that’s what the locals enjoy about this piece of paradise in the suburbs.
The upstairs rooms of the former Manse have become a centre for an artists' community with very suitable spaces and light for artist studios.
Manse Gallery Cafe
603 Toorak Road, Toorak
(03) 9829 0341