Cows once grazed in the paddocks and their milk was sold fresh from the building that is now a popular three-month-old café in a sleepy Footscray street.
Chef Aven Watson and his hospitality-trained partner Jess Tumbri knew Footscray was “screaming out for something new”. So they persisted through a 12-month planning process and a seven-month renovation to create their suburban oasis.
Their quaint café celebrates the area’s history and offers a glance at the neighbourhood corner shops of old. But Melbourne-trained Watson, who has worked at The European and Degraves Espresso, has ensured it’s firmly in the present when it comes to food and coffee. His constantly changing menu might feature cream of mushroom soup with salsa verde, radicchio, broad bean and taleggio pasta, or gnocchi with beef and red wine sauce.
“It’s hearty food that won’t break the bank and hopefully food that people here can eat every day,” Watson says.
There’s a deli window bursting with filled panini, cheese, olives and cured meats and a set of pantry shelves holding pasta, rice, olive oil and condiments.
Watson describes them as “boutique products that people can’t buy in Footscray” and says they are part of his grand plan to open for longer hours and feature a daily recipe for which all ingredients are available in the shop.
Manuel Ricardo moved all the way from Perth and now works 10 minutes from his new home. He was lured east by Melbourne’s coffee culture and, after working in café and restaurant chains in Perth, says he has gained most of his coffee expertise by working with, and watching, others.
The café uses Padre Coffee’s eponymous blend, which features beans from Colombia, India, Costa Rica, Peru, Sumatra and Guatemala.
With creamy Jonesy’s milk, it makes a mild, malt-chocolate flat white with a bittersweet finish.
Ricardo says it’s a consistent, reliable blend that lets him know if he gets things wrong.
“I really enjoy the exotic spices in it and that it has a bit of bite,” he says.
Ricardo is a white-coffee drinker and says customers enjoy the extra attention he gives to texturing milk.
Footscray Milking Station
35 Bunbury Street, Footscray
Phone \ 9029 9240
Barista \ Manuel Ricardo
Coffee \ Padre Coffee
Barista’s choice \ Strong flat white
Open \ Daily 7am-3pm
The former milking station theme dominates this charming local. Milk cans perch on specially made shelves, there’s a lighted green-and-white sign featuring their image behind the counter and water is served from old glass milk bottles at cosily arranged tables.
The green-and-white colour scheme extends to tiles that run in perpendicular patterns across the wall, the plastic stools, the enamel light fittings that hang over the counter, the patches of colour on the recycled timber tables and the aprons staff wear, with their white shirts and jeans.
Only the pair of red buoy lanterns over the counter breaks the mould.