The Cool Room Cafe
When the Eftpos machine at The Cool Room is down, owner Peta Walter gives her customers two options: cash or barter. She encourages regulars to forage in their gardens if their wallets are light, and has accepted payment via pickled lemons, limes, sunflower sprouts and spinach.
It’s one of many reasons why The Cool Room is a refreshing misnomer in a sea of self-consciously slick cafes. It looks slightly grungy, with white tiles scrawled with highlighter, Formica-topped tables and knick-knacks from retro shop Old Values next door.
Walter’s personal playlist – a mix of blues, folk-rock and dub – blasts from a record player. Artwork from resident artist Peter Matulich adorns the walls, depicting almost-dystopic scenes of a forgotten urban landscape.
The kitchen is miniscule, in full view behind the counter, so it’s something of a shock when elaborate, artfully arranged meals emerge. The inventive menu (which includes all-day breakfast) is heavy on fresh herbs and pickled vegetables, accompanied by coffee from local roasters Darkstar, and spongy homemade sourdough.
On Friday nights in summer, the space is turned into the fairy light-strewn Moroccan Kitchen, an intimate dinner space with a simple, Middle Eastern-inspired menu, BYO and table service.