Ryan Cassidy wrote the first menu for his Northcote cafe, Poke the Bear, while soaking up some sun in Bali – somewhere he visits five or six times a year.

Cassidy is the former part-owner of Albert Park’s Truman Cafe and Elwood’s Veruca Salt. Poke the Bear took over the space previously inhabited by Radio Mexico’s northside sibling Radio Mexico Norte – he used to own Truman with Radio Mexico owner Adele Arkell.

The Radio Mexico fit-out was mostly carried over to Poke the Bear with a few changes, including the addition of distressed plantation blinds and large rattan light fittings to give the space a Bali holiday vibe.

Knick-knacks collected over years from the Indonesian island are dotted throughout, such as miniature wooden drawers with a handle to crack the peppercorns and a polarising baby bunny ornament on the shelf above the bar.

Hot drinks, including Wide Open Road coffee and Ayurveda teas, come with a little strip of paper printed with quirky words of wisdom and quotes. The menu is jammed with many “poke” and “bear” puns and references – Goldie Locks is porridge with cinnamon, buckwheat and Brazil nut crunch; Bear Minimum is two eggs on toast; Bear Grylls is a lunchtime burger. You get the picture.

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Updated: March 15th, 2018

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