Wednesday, 19 January 2011

A review of The Green Refectory

Mountainous muffins
115 Sydney Road, Brunswick, Victoria 3056, Australia

As one of the most popular cafes in Brunswick, I thought I’d start my reviews of Melbourne’s cafes with Green’s to give myself a bit of credibility. I do know a good cafe when I see one  - honest.

Firstly, I have to put Green’s in the context of Sydney Road. This bustling city street just north of the CBD (central business district for those not geographically inclined) holds a very fond place in my heart as it was our most convenient high street when living in Melbourne (on Park Street if you were wondering).  Stuffed with outlets of very kind you can imagine, Sydney Road practically bubbles over with a cosmopolitan energy not found on many streets in your typical Australian suburb. 

When visiting Sydney Road I’d strongly recommend you take the number 19 tram from the city centre’s Victoria Street up to the Brunswick Rd / Royal Parade stop and start at the beginning. I really can’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon than mooching along Sydney Road stopping in on any of the many weird and wonderful outlets that crowd its footpath. 

The first thing to note about Green’s is the abundance of giant muffins bursting with fruit and unceremoniously piled upside down in mounds along the counter top.  Visible from the street outside, your eyes are treated to a veritable feast of deliciousness before you’ve even opened the door and this, I believe, is the secret to attracting so much passing foot traffic. 

Characterised by the kind of shabby chic look which automatically puts me at ease, the reclaimed furniture, rubbed down wooden surfaces and wall murals create a sense of homely disarray. This is the kind of place where it’s cool to be ‘seen’ – an encounter which is likely to involve you feverishly devouring whatever food is in front of you at the time.  

One aspect of Green’s which I have seen applied all over Australia but is still a rare find in the UK is the presence of a large communal table positioned at the front of the cafe. This informal seating space is for those on their own, in a rush or unable to find a more formal seating arrangement deeper inside. I would relish observing this kind of set up in the UK where we are all so uncomfortable with the rudimentary act of sitting down and eating with strangers. We will share a space with them, but dread the possibility of sharing a table. Cafe goers beware – communal seating is coming!

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