Nathan Toleman beams like a proud father as he shows us around Two Birds One Stone. “This has been the most rewarding fit-out so far,” Toleman says.
Along with his business partners Ben Clarke and Diamond Rozakeas, he is responsible for some of Melbourne’s finest cafes – Apte, Liar Liar and Three Bags Full. This is their first project south of the river and residents of Claremont Street, South Yarra are all the luckier for it. Two Birds brings life to the rather grey strip.
“We wanted to move away from the industrial feel and do something more polished,” Toleman says. The result is a bright, sophisticated café with a familiar sense of homely warmth.
As with their previous ventures, the design and build has been largely Toleman’s responsibility. “We’re very involved in the whole process, from sketching the designs to project-managing the build,” Toleman says. White panelled walls feature on one side of the 80-seater café, cosy booths and patchwork stained glass on the other. Sandblasted oak stools by Scandinavian designers Norm nestle along window-facing benches, while light fittings from local designer Christopher Boots hang above an expansive communal table.
Over by the brass coffee counter, large vases suspended by knitted rope frame the simple yet deceptively thorough coffee menu. Five Senses are providing the bulk of the beans and the menu is broken into two categories: white and black, which includes clever drip coffee, aeropress, syphons, pour overs and cold drip.
“We’re trying not to complicate coffee,” says Clarke. “We want to make it more approachable. We have all the information printed and it’s there if people are interested.”
They understand that while some people will appreciate a single origin pour over, others just want a really good, hot, skinny latte and that’s fine too.
For the last eight months they’ve been roasting their own beans on a 1-kilogram roaster and a single origin they developed with Hootan Heyderi at Wide Open Road will be available from next week. “Roasting for us is about engaging with the whole process, from plantation to cup,” says Clarke. The team are planning a trip overseas to source their own beans later in the year. “It’s a good excuse to go back to Indonesia…or Hawaii. There are some great beans coming out of Hawaii,” continues Clarke, who coincidently is a keen surfer.
David Finlayson has come across from the Press Club Group to take the role of executive chef and has developed an impressive but down to earth menu. There are stand out dishes like salt cod & potato fritters with spinach, poached egg & caper berry dressing, but if you just want bacon and eggs, that’s on there too. They’re doing everything they can in house: smoking their own salmon and ham, making their own relish and baking all their own pastries and cakes (including their famous cheesecake brownie). Bread is from Crumbs in Ascot Vale, but they’re looking into baking their own.
And even though the doors to this establishment have just opened, the team’s thoughts are already on the next one. “We’ve already sourced nearly enough furniture for another venue,” laughs Toleman. Top Paddock on Church Street is still set to open later in the year and a little birdie told us there could also be plans for a sixth venture around the Bray Street, South Yarra in the works.
Two Birds One Stone
12 Claremont Street, South Yarra
(03) 9827 1228
Mon to Fri 7am–4pm
Sat & Sun 8am–4pm