A new cafe for East Melbourne

Cafes, Coffee, Food1 Comment

gnocchi-lamb

East Melbourne is a funny suburb. Nestled in between Richmond and the CBD, it is surprisingly tranquil, to the point of sometimes seeming sleepy.

smashed-avo-heirloom-tomatoes

Smashed Avo with Heirloom Tomatoes

Consequently, it is fairly quiet in terms of great places to brunch.

Kael Sahely of Barry in Northcote and Pillar of Salt and Touchwood in Richmond is hoping to fill that gap with Square and Compass.

“We are not trying to reinvent the wheel or anything, we just want to do good food, good coffee and good service,” explains Sahely.

“I think a lot of places aren’t really breaking any boundaries, it is more about getting the system in place to have a really good product. A lot of places have popped up recently and the standards are pretty high now, even compared to three or four years ago, so it can be hard to maintain. We have tried to stay really simple.”

Square and Compass’ chef, Jeremy Fraser, has been brought across from Barry, and before that has worked at Porgie + Mr Jones and Richmond Hill.

“Our dishes are all pretty classical with modern twists. There is a bit of a health focus, we particularly have one at Barry, there are heaps of vegan options, but our best sellers are always our Eggs Benedict and Red Chilli Scrambled Eggs, so you need to offer everything.” Says Sahely.

chilli-scrambled-eggs

Red Chilli Scrambled Eggs

When Square and Compass opened earlier this year, they found they were reasonably quiet for the first four weeks, so they took the opportunity to seek feedback from customers and make updates and changes to the menu.

“When we are creating a new dish, it is normally just between Jeremy and I,” says Sahely.

“We will sit down and see what foods are trending. Before we opened we did the menu about three times because it took six months to set the café up and in that six months food trends had already changed.

“Jeremy is a classically changed chef, so he can do all the elements really well, it is just finding ways to make them cutting edge.”

Square and Compass get produce delivered seven days a week, due to their focus on freshness, but also a lack of storage space!

Most of their fruit and vegetables come from a company called Fresh Generation, who specialise in boutique items like edible flowers.

They also get some staples like cabbage from another supplier, Biviano, in Northcote. The meat comes from Peter Bouchier in Hawksburn.

Good coffee is a big focus for Sahely and his team.

peanut-butter-tomatoes-toast

Heirloom Tomatoes with Crunchy Peanut Butter (the menu says “trust us” and we are glad we did!)

“We have always used 5 Senses coffee in the past. And about five years ago there were only about two other cafes that had it. They are still awesome I can’t say a bad word about them, they are probably roasting better than they were back then but the problem for us is they are everywhere now!

“So, we decided to approach Seven Seeds. They are probably regarded as the best roasters in Melbourne along with Market Lane and Small Batch.

“We keep it really simple with one blend for white coffee and one blend for black. They’re the coffee experts so we stick to their volumetrics, so they tell us how much coffee, the weights, the grinds, the dosage and we just stick to their guidelines.

“Jacinta is our head barista, she spent time at Seven Seeds in the past and they spend a lot of time here, they’re pretty involved. They have been really good to deal with and it is just that next step. They are a little more expensive but it’s the trade off. I would use them again straight away.”

222 Clarendon St,
East Melbourne VIC 3002
(03) 9416 4914

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