Willow Wine Cafe

On a quiet residential street in Kingsville, among single-storey weatherboard and red-brick houses, you’ll find all-day eatery Willow Wine Cafe.

The site used to be home to Fisher Bats, a company that made custom cricket bats from English and Australian willow trees. You can still make out the remains of his signage above the front entrance.

The corner site retains the bones of its former life, but where once there was a rarely seen exterior colour scheme of teal and maroon, now there’s an abundance of high-reaching warehouse-style windows that flood the interior with light.

There are more traces of the old shop in a cricket match mural painted outside, as well as in the single purple brick that owner Ellen Turner decided to keep from the original building. The name, too, is an homage to Fisher who lived and worked there for 30 years.

Inside, it’s plant-filled and modest, with raw, recycled-timber finishes, exposed brickwork and the occasional flash of pastel green giving the space an unpolished feel.

There’s no chef – instead, Turner has developed an uncomplicated menu that any of her small team of staff can serve.

For brunch, low-maintenance dishes include comte cheese, Salt Kitchen Charcuterie ham and pickle toasties, and milk buns with smoked trout, crème fraiche and dill, North Melbourne chocolaterie Mork provides cakes and hot chocolate, and on weekends there are doughnuts from Candied Bakery in Spotswood. Coffee is from 5 Senses.

The bar menu is available all day – spiced nuts; burrata with beetroot relish and lemon; sardines, aioli and dill on rye; and a solid selection of charcuterie – designed to complement the wine, which sits in a rack behind the front counter. There’s also a rotating selection of wines by the glass, and bottles can be taken away for $10 less than drinking in.

The locally focussed list is around 70 per cent Victorian wines; Turner’s wine knowledge was built while working at Seddon Wine Store and prior to that at The Plough Hotel.

Updated: October 5th, 2018

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