There’s a bit of a dream team behind the newest cafe on High Street, Northcote, Top of the Hill. Andrew Chew and Benjamin Stray own Stray Neighbour together, as well as Chew Burger with third cafe-partner Kieran Englert. Ryan Taylor runs Brisbane food truck, How We Rolls.
Stray designed and built the elements for the space, previously an art gallery, including the curved plywood ceiling, which Chew describes as, “an unexpected element that really makes a statement”. The counter is flanked by an impressive mural of a jungle-like scene by Melbourne artist Robert Bowers. It complements the brass-clad counter where an antique cash register holds pride of place. The reclaimed terrazzo flooring was hard-earned by the team after a trip to pick it up resulted in three tonnes being hand-loaded and transported back to Melbourne.
The menu by Ryan Taylor is refreshing in its simplicity. It has five well-considered sandwiches and some specials. Chew says they wanted to keep the food offerings streamlined, “heroing a few good things done well”. Fast becoming the cafe’s signature sandwich is the Georgia Reuben, packed with house-brined pastrami, slaw, “10 billion sauce” (a spin on Thousand Island) and pickles. There are also pastries from Noisette and coffee by Clement.