Mason & Bird owners Matt Nguyen, Jaclyn Noel and Brad Johnston have some serious pedigree. Nguyen and Noel worked as managers at Rockpool, and Johnston was head chef at Print Hall Bar.
The long commute to work combined with the desire to break out on their own prompted the career treechange for the trio.
“We were all looking to do our own thing,” says Johnston. “We started talking about it and we thought, ‘Why don’t we do it all together?’”
The cafe, situated in the Zig Zag Cultural Centre, makes heavy use of wood to complement the ochre-coloured rammed-earth walls. The look is a tip of the hat to the area’s history: the cafe’s namesakes, Ben Mason and Francis Bird, ran Mason Mill, one of the earliest timber mills in the Darling Ranges. All the furniture was built using marri, jarrah, karri and acacia timber by Noel’s father Lloyd, an avid woodworker.
Toasties, burgers and braised lamb pappardelle feature on the approachable all-day menu. Non-standard issue ingredients such as sobrassada (raw, cured sausage), speck bacon and kefalograviera cheese speak to Johnston’s fine-dining background. Breakfast options include homemade maple cocoa pops – and drinking the chocolate-y milk from the bowl is mandatory.
In an effort to support locals, meat is sourced from Sebastian Butchers down the road while honey comes from Maida Vale Natural Honey (Noel and Johnston discovered the producer after seeing a handpainted sign on the road). The coffee beans are from Little Owl Roasting Company, while a collaboration with Sunnydale Dairy has resulted in the creamy house-blend of unhomogenised milk.
It hasn’t taken long for the guys to settle in. Nguyen, who works the coffee machine, already knows customers by name.
“We love the community feel up here,” he says. “We feel like locals.”
Dinner service will be added in spring.
Mason & Bird
7 Williams Street, Kalamunda
(08) 9293 1581