What was once an unused, dilapidated corner block in Footscray has been transformed into an AstroTurf garden with a new cafe niftily fashioned from three shipping containers.
“Because the land is quite high value, I understand we might eventually have to move, so the shipping-container design ensures we can literally just pack up and relocate if we need to,” says owner Desmond Huynh. “We also wanted to be as sustainable as possible and breathe life into the materials we already had.”
The light, open space was a collaboration between local architect Richard Denby and Huynh (also a former architecture and design student) and features a glass wall with a view of the beautiful outdoor space filled with herbs and lavender beds.
The menu reflects the clean, modern interior and hints at Huynh’s Vietnamese heritage, though he admits to conceding “full rein” of the food to chefs Shane Donelly and Thomas Ainslie. Both formerly worked together at the Duchess of Spotswood.
It’s a compact yet versatile menu that incorporates pickled and fermented ingredients into dishes such as house-cured ocean trout with pickled cucumber, nashi and crème fraiche, and a sandwich of smoked brisket with kimchi and asiago.
A La Marzocco churns out coffee from Small Batch and head barista Emily Keats (formerly of Auction Rooms and Seven Seeds) says she expects rotating single origins and filter coffee to be available within the month. Keep an eye out for her Vietnamese coffee, too.