In Short: Bentwood Fitzroy Cafe makes you feel so lucky to live in a city that cultivates cafes of this class. From the food that is more a genuine culinary experience than just great cafe fare, to the space that exudes refined and funky architectural intent, Bentwood is an essential for any serious Melbournian cafe connoisseur. Tip: The smoothies are on another level of awesome!
“Cup Day” in the city of cafes and horse racing presents Melbournians with two options when the heavens open up… brave the mud and rain of Flemington Racecourse or retreat to one of the city’s very best cafes. We chose the latter! Warm and cosy in Bentwood Fitzroy Cafe while watching the racegoers dodge the rain drops makes you realise just how lucky we are to have cafes of this class on our doorstep.
Apart from hiding under doona covers in rainy weather, I absolutely love wasting away an afternoon in a cafe that makes me feel at home with great coffee and outstanding food. At Bentwood, it is certainly about that, as well as a fantastic space to enjoy it all in. The floor to ceiling windows that pour in light to the industrial, exposed bricked interior invite you to observe the details and the warmth of the palette both in colour and texture.
It’s with this canvas, that the aroma of local Melbourne roasters Inglewood coffee fills the air, and because I hadn’t had coffee yet and it was past 10am (the horror!!!), we ordered even before we actually sat down.
With fellow coffee aficionados Steve and John in tow, its a nice selection brought to the table to test out the skills of the barista, and he definitely did not disappoint. The flat white was smooth, with robust flavours that lingered on the palate and highlighted caramel and chocolate notes.
With a beautifully creamy layer of frothy milk, the dusting of chocolate across the cappuccino draws out even further those chocolate notes of the coffee, creating yet another smooth, rich cup that was enjoyable to the last drop. A long macchiato rounds out our coffee trio, and this drew out rich flavours, that judging by John’s silence as he sipped away, was thoroughly enjoyed.
It was a great start, and leaving it in the hands of our server to make our food selections, we just knew we’d be spoilt for the rest of our foodie adventure.
We didn’t have to wait long, to then be greeted by another trio, this time of the smoothie kind. And, what an amazing cornucopia of flavours that just burst with goodness! From the peanut butter and banana enhanced with cacao, honey and almond milk, to green that was filled with kale, peaches, mango, ginger, honey, and coconut water and finishing off with the mango that danced in the mouth with coconut milk, yoghurt, and honey. They were practically a meal unto themselves and which we unashamedly devoured!
Thankfully we’re the kind of crew that eat with our eyes, so there’s always room for more food, so it was too easy to make space for the braised spiced lamb. There was plenty of ‘ooohhhhs’ as we all took mouthfuls of the delicately shaved lamb, with grain herb salad, baked eggplant, feta, pomegranate buckwheat, sumac, and pickled red cabbage, all mixed in perfect harmony. But, it was the labneh that stole the show, with its next-level smooth creaminess. We haven’t had labneh this good since Mick’s home-made version from Motown in Sydney!
Now, smashed avocado is so much a regular cafe staple these days, we’re even rating the economy on it! But, the salmon pokeado at Bentwood makes every other avo smash just look, well…boring. This takes all the things that make an avocado smash good, then marries it up with the latest taste sensations from poke bowls, to turn this into my new favourite breakfast dish! The freshness of the salmon is brought together with the bite of wasabi citrus and a delicate white miso. Add in a hint of sweetness from small chunks of pineapple and served on a delicious toasted dark rye, and you could come back over and over again for this.
I love you, Bentwood, for totally making it acceptable to have dessert for breakfast. And not just any old dessert, but every-beating-Australian-heart kind of dessert in the golden gaytime panna cotta. You had me at Golden Gaytime. But stop it; you go and add this decadent, rich and out-of-this-world creamy panna cotta with these delicious honeycomb crumbs, add salted caramel, berries, and red velvet truffle wafers. Yes, red velvet truffle. I hear you. Sshhh, I’m busy drooling…
Horses and public holidays aside, do yourself a favour and find your way to Bentwood Fitzroy Cafe regardless of whether this is your hometown or you’re here for a visit. Indulge in the unexpected menu items, linger over the amazing coffee, and thoroughly enjoy the great space.