One thing that never goes out of style is simple, tasty café food and brilliant coffee.
Darian Szyszka, the owner of Reunion & Co on Richmond’s Bridge Road, clearly understands this.
Szyszka says the concept and name for Reunion & Co was inspired by two factors.
“Firstly our core philosophy was to create a space where people could reconnect and engage with each other – a place to reunite, a reunion. Secondly, while investigating the history of the space, we discovered that the building was occupied in 1915 by the Union Cafe, so in celebration of its 100 year anniversary we thought Reunion & Co would be a fitting tribute,” explains Szyszka.
It is an interesting time at Reunion & Co at the moment, as they are currently in the process of inducting a new head chef. Szyszka says they have a dedicated and passionate team in the kitchen, who strongly represent the food philosophy of farm to fork.
“Our team cook and prepare all our high quality produce with the respect it deserves so you, the customer, shares in our passion with every mouthful.”
The coffee at Reunion & Co is provided by Allpress, a New Zealand roaster that has gone international, not only here but in Asia and the UK. While the company may be of Kiwi origin, the beans are ethically and sustainably sourced from a variety of regions, predominantly from South America, and then roasted right here in Melbourne.
Szyszka’s tips for making the perfect coffee are to start with great produce, highly skilled baristas and top equipment.
“Consistency is the key, so all our shots are weighed to ensure every cup is at the same high quality, but technical skills only make up part of the story. A big dash of passion, some care and tenderness and a lot of love are all required to make the perfect cup!
“Our house Supremo blend is roasted nice and dark to provide rich chocolate and caramel notes; with or without milk this coffee sits nicely with all our sweet and savoury dishes. Just enough acidity to cut through the sweet and just enough sweetness to compliment the savoury.”
Szyszka says all the recipes and menus are created, selected and finalised via the whole kitchen team.
“The other owner Nicole and myself and the entire kitchen team meet to discuss, suggest and ultimately cook, trial & taste new dishes and ideas,” explains Szyszka.
“From these tastings sometimes amazing dishes are born immediately and other times some minor adjustments are required to get it just right. We believe that its the consultative process, many minds working together as one, that takes our food to that next level with flavour, taste, texture and inventiveness.”
All the meat used at Reunion & Co are free range and ethically farmed by local Victorian farmers, as is all the fruit and vegetables, which change to reflect the seasons.
Szyszka says as much as they can, they make things in-house, like churning their own butter, making their own jam, bread and curing trout and making pork sausages.
“We change our menu seasonally, using fresh seasonal produce, but also so we can tailor the dishes style, weight, texture and flavour to the season also. So summer will be light, fresh and refreshing with winter providing some more hearty, rich and comforting food.”
According to Szyszka, breakfast buffs will love the bircher muesli soaked in coconut milk, mixed berries, pistachio, strawberry and lemon balm and the brioche French toast with nectarine, mascarpone, salted caramel sauce and a honeycomb crumb – which is not just tasty but pretty too!
Eggs and bacon is reinvented with the pressed ham hock, paired with truffled cauliflower, turmeric kewpee, smoky bacon jus and a fried egg. Another savoury favourite is the local shiitake and King Brown mushrooms on olive bread with aged pecorino cheese, crispy jamon and a poached egg.
It isn’t just breakfast that is popular at Reunion & Co. Szyszka says the pressed lamb shoulder on house-made flat bread with fennel barley, beetroot relish and spiced labne is a standout.
“But it’s hard to go past a classic New Yorker bagel, smeared with Philly cream cheese and topped with house-cured salmon and a squeeze of lime. If you’re after something sweet, there’s a range of freshly baked cakes, muffins and pastries that are sure to sate even the staunchest of sweet tooths.”