Melbourne. You beauty. You constantly surprise and amuse me.
On a recent trip, I decided to try out a new coffee place. Okay, so no surprises there.
Switchboard Cafe, the website suggested. Sounded interesting. Architecturally tempting. On Collins St. Located in an old building? Ah yes, the Manchester Unity building. The description read “small enough to miss”.
Dragged the husband along.
We walked into an internal lane way, took a left and stopped.
A line of people had gathered.
A sure sign of good coffee.
But where was the “cafe”?
Oh . . . there it is. In a 2 x 1m void under a stairwell. Coffee machine plus two baristas included. A “wedgie” if I ever saw one.
A wall of brass-plated postboxes.
A gallery of historical photographs.
Original timber slatted benches.
And a number of waiting, coffee drinking people Melbournians sitting in what looked like the confines of a vintage window display area.
Ordered two coffees.
Then the following conversation ensued.
How I See It: Babe, let’s take a seat outside
Husband: (Looks around) Where? In the dodgy alleyway? (Referring to what appeared to be an abandoned loading-bay-cum-garbage-refuse-area located just beyond the cafe.)
With the window display area full to the brim, we took our seats in “dodgy alleyway” at two vintagey, vinyl-covered chairs.
Husband looks around. Babe, this feels like downtown Johannesburg. The kind of rear alleyway you’d avoid like your life depended on it.
How I See It: Like a white-body-outline-pool-of-blood-gangster-shoot-out kind of back alleyway?
Husband: That’s the one. I’m half expecting the Red Ants to turn up. (Points to “bullet” hole in the wall behind me. Read: missing stone cladding)
Two tradies emerge from behind the dumpster and walk towards the cafe.
Husband takes a sip of his coffee.
And another one.
Husband: Pauses. Um. Wow. This coffee is SUBLIME.
A few quiet moments passed as we savoured every sip of our skim capuccinos, drank in the bizarre surroundings (which included what appeared to be a half-stocked op-shop and a range of electically-dressed office workers) and munched on a generous $5 scoop of Bircher Muesli.
How I See It: Be honest babe. I’ve just discovered another little gem.
We LOVED it.
End of story. Now look at the pics.
SWITCHBOARD CAFE / 220 Collins Street / Melbourne