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Mr Jones has put his stamp on Balwyns Snow Pony. Its obviously part of a stable that includes Porgie + Mr Jones in Hawthorn and Friends of Mine in Richmond, but also determinedly individual. Jason Jones and his partner Theo Tsepsas opened the Whitehorse Road café, topped by a large white horse and in a small strip of shops, about two years ago.
Im a country boy from Gippsland, says Jones. And I love village life. Jones aims to re-create that communal atmosphere in each café hes involved with. He and Tsepsas fit out the venues together. Atmosphere is a big part of Snow Ponys success, but so is its produce-driven menu, which announces: We make everything in our kitchens using as much organic, free-range, happy and local produce as financially and commercially possible.
The coffee, which includes a house blend and a daily single origin, is part of the package rather than the focus but Balwynites are grateful for its quality. I tried the Colombian bachue, described on the menu as the Marlon Brando of coffee as an espresso. Its a good description, but all I can taste is Brandos ashtray. With a stain of milk, its more to my liking. The house blend Allpress Supremo, however, is expertly delivered as a gutsy, pleasant piccolo latte.
Sam Dauner moved to Snow Pony as head barista in January. He spent two years at sister café Porgie + Mr Jones and has worked at cafés on Fraser Island and in Armadale. He ran his own coffee cart in Adelaide, too. Dauners self-described barista style is artisan, or rustic, he dabbles in a bit of latte art, but says that if an espresso base is good and milk is beautifully textured, looks are secondary. At Porgie, Dauner was using two coffee blends, one for milk-based brews and another for straight espresso. He thinks that works best for the coffee drinkers in the suburbs and is keen to do the same at Snow Pony.
Snow Pony, 95 Whitehorse Road, Balwyn
Phone 9816 8911
Barista Sam Dauner
Baristas choice strong flat white
Open Mon-Fri 8am-4pm; Sat-Sun 8.30am-4pm
An oversized photograph of a child and an empty ornamental birdcage, plus a few glass bottles holding single, deep-burgundy lilies, are the decorative flourishes in the main room at this chic café. The effect is subtle and uncluttered, yet welcoming. Antique leather banquettes line both side walls, which act as a gallery to elegant, black-framed landscape photographs. The seats are fronted by recycled timber tables and ageing Bentwood timber chairs. Black and charcoal-painted walls and ceilings add drama. Theres a Good Room, with white tablecloths and an antique mirror over the fireplace, a deck that catches the breeze and a rear garden shaded by cream market umbrellas.