And then to the coffee. I’m a barista, and a friend of mine who is also one took me to a bunch of coffee places around Melbourne (we would have gone to more if we’d had the time.)
First cab off the rank was St Ali. I was pretty excited, I mean Melbourne has this rep for having amazing food and coffee and I had definitely experienced the food but all the coffee I had was.. not bad… but passable is probably the best I can come up with.
We missed part of the conference to go to this shop, so I expected something amazing…
First thing I think when I walk through the door is,’I love the interior.’ Beat up wood tables, dark corners with afternoon sunshine beating down through dusty windows high up in the walls.
But… The effort put into making the place look cool has apparently affected the staff.
I have a couple of pet hates….
1. Bad coffee (or even mediocre coffee) that has good art. If I have to choose, I would rather be served a coffee that has no art on top that tastes amazing than one that LOOKS amazing and tastes either boring or bad.
2. Weak coffee.
3. Slow service in a shop that has maybe half a dozen customers (and could easily seat, my guess would be, going on 100) and probably 9 staff members on… Seriously???
4. Snobby staff.
5. Rude staff.
Unfortunately, St Ali tapped into every single one of these pet hates. The girl who served us was reluctant at best, and when my friend inquired about the coffee, instead of being happy to find someone who knows what they are talking about, she was defensive and unhelpful.
The piccolos we ordered we so weak (and uneven – mine was weaker than my friends) and over extracted. I can’t imagine drinking a flat white on that shot, it was terrible.
But anyway. We went back the following day with friends for lunch, and it redeemed itself slightly. One of the waiters who served us was nice enough, and the food we had was fantastic! It did take forever to pay our bill though… and we missed some more of the conference but… ah well.
(I apologise for the weird colours that actually make the food look gross; we were sitting in pitch black and my phone camera couldn’t handle it!) That night we went to Guy Grossi’s restaurant, Cellar Bar? (He spoke at the conference we were all attending.) So much fun. The food was impressively delicious, and served in an unpretentious way. The waiter, while initially rather hostile at the large group of people he had to move a table for, proved to be particularly entertaining. We all had smiles on our faces the whole time we were there. At the end of the night Mr Grossi himself turned up and had a photo taken with us, then signed one of his menus for my friend to give to her mother. 🙂
Ahhh finally a place to redeem my faith in Melbourne coffee! A surprise really; I went to the Hardware Societe for food, not expecting any decent coffee yet it was smooth, full of flavour and yummy. Not a hint of bitterness. They took my pet hates, and smashed them on the ground. Service was quick and friendly, even early in the morning and later when they were very busy; the design and layout was fun and personal without coming across as pretentious, the food and coffee were fantastic and the coffee both looked and tasted good. Definitely winning.
While across the road, McSpanky’s was open….
Dead Man Espresso.. Liked their design and branding. Liked their food. Even quite enjoyed their coffee. Especially liked the little meringue cupcakey thing. Mmm
The only photo I have of the agIdeas afterparty….
Went back to Hardware Societe. Just as good the second time. Tried to go back a third but there was a huge lineup. So we ended up at Affogato – UrbanSpoon you are a fantastic invention 🙂