South of Johnston kindly invited melbournechaitimes a while ago to come and try their Chai. And tried it we have several times and it’s best described as a ‘mean cuppa Chai’.
There’s many a Chai out there that goes easy on the spice. South of Johnston’s Chai packs a punch in a big glass with lots of flavor. On a cold day it makes you want to dive in and swim around.
Accompanied by a spacious environment and a log fire this is an inviting autumn and winter destination. Though often packed with people it feels like you are welcome to hang around and enjoy the space. Can’t miss mentioning the ablutions with botanical hand wash and cream so I always feel like I’m in some winery in the Yarra Valley.
South of Johnston’s food is sensational, I have officially become a regular.
South of Johnston
46 Oxford Street, Collingwood
A friend in Wellington mentioned she had just been to Auckland for the weekend and was taken to a little cafe in the middle if nowhere in a fabric warehouse which had donuts to die for. I had to visit and hoped they would have Chai.
So I visited Little and Friday in Newmarket today with a local friend who didn’t know if it. Clearly there are plenty who do as we struggled to get a seat inside the bakery/fabric shop on a mid morning Monday.
Chai was superb (thankfully or I wouldn’t be able to do a blog). But there was so much more to be excited about. Savory pastries in many combinations, I tried chorizo and Kumera.
The quote from said friend tells all about the sweet treats. “I never really understood cakes until today!”
Raspberry chocolate, beetroot and salted caramel cakes were devoured.
I think it would be difficult to visit and not be inspired to take some fabric home with you.
The famous donuts, well we had to take them away and one is lovingly wrapped up in my carry on luggage for my flight back to Melbourne. Along with my very own copy of the little and Friday cook book.
My addiction to Chai actually started when I was living in Wellington New Zealand. So on holiday this week I revisited some old Chai haunts and discovered a few new ones.
Fidel’s on Cuba Street does a mighty fine Chai with Phoenix chai and their food is just so good.
Sweet Mother’s Kitchen on Courtney Place was by far the best Chai I had in Wellington.
Something else Wellington does very well is public toilets and I loved this cheeky toilet signage on the waterfront.
Sometimes, just sometimes, a takeaway Chai must be had. On occasion I happen to find myself in what is know in the Food Security world as the ‘food desert’ of Bayswater.
Just around the corner is a shop long laying idle which I have been waiting to reinvent itself. It was most recently a dry cleaners and I even looked at it about 18 months ago to rent for my own business, but that’s another story. Anyway, in the last week teapots have arrived in the window on the racks, those racks I imagined could have been full of freshly baked good. Today, as there sign said, finally they are open! And to make this another beautiful community story they are offering free tea and coffee all week.
It’s a little tea house with walls of tea house things and a big shiny coffee machine. I was so captivated by all the different types of tea I sat down to pot of Rooibos Spicy Chai. It was delicious and I will be taking some home with me soon. I then considered that they probably would make a Chai latte and had to try that too. Naturally they make their own Chai blend and it tasted like no other Chai I have experienced, somehow sweet without any ingredients to make it so.
Though there will be some food in the future it’s exciting to have this tea house just around the corner from home and I can see many walks followed by chats and Chai here.
McIver’s North : Corner of Dawson Street and South Daly Street, Brunswick West
John Gorilla is my own personal experience of how a cafe can change a Neighbourhood. I live just around the corner and for many years have passed these old shops on my walks, wondering who would take them on and what would they bring to us.
Many, many months ago I saw the words ‘John Gorilla is Coming’ spray painted on the window. I pondered while walking if this could be related to clothing, skaters wear, graphic design or a cafe?
Then out of the blue I see The Age article about John Gorilla cafe looking for community financial support via Pozible to get over the grand opening line. I happily entered in my credit card details for 50 smackers on the promise of $60 worth of food at some point in the future. Then I watched and waited and counted down the days until opening as I now felt even more engaged with this being.
I was disappointed that my work committments didn’t allow me to visit until the third day after opening. But when I rocked around the corner at 10.30am I was shocked to see the streets around full of parked cars and lots of prams. The place was packed, lively and welcoming.
So often Chai is not a priority for cafes when they first open, not the case here thankfully. My Chai arrived inside a 1981 cup celebrating Charles and Diana’s marriage and brought a smile to my face. Full bodied flavor in this Chai, it’s not for the faint hearted. Chai had a great head of froth and not too sweet.
Poached eggs, bacon and sourdough toast were solidly splendid. There was no scrimping on the crispy bacon either.
There was a definite feeling that what’s happening here is more than just a cafe plonking itself in a place screaming out I’m ready for gentrification! A genuine desire to connect with the local community, it’s people and existing businesses appeared obvious to me.
John Gorilla : 49 Pearson Street, Brunswick West
When returning to Melbourne about 5 or so years ago, Ray’s in Brunswick was one of the very first cafes I visited. I fell in love with the street art covered exterior and middle eastern menu. In truth it probably shaped my obsession with Melbourne cafe culture.
Since then Ray’s has become so popular and busy that it’s been a long time between Chai’s. Today after dropping my car at the mechanics I found myself walking up Victoria Street, subconsciously destined for Ray’s.
So very nice on an quiet and early Wednesday morning to get a table and just sit and relax. The Chai is loose leaves brewed in a teapot with cow juice. It’s nourishing and somehow wholesome.
It was hard to go past the French toast which is crazy delicious with labna, banana and hazelnuts.
Ray’s Cafe : 332 Victoria Street, Brunswick