No doubt you’ve heard of New York’s SoHo, Greenwich Village and Lower East Side. Well now Melbourne can join in with the groovy neighbourhood names: welcome to the Inner West Side, home to the New York–inspired Luncheonette in Kensington.
In the States and Canada, a luncheonette is a cafe or small informal restaurant where lighter meals and snacks are served – a bit like a diner without the booths. Olivia Robinson’s version offers a similar experience. Sitting opposite Kensington railway station, the diner-like signage guides you in through a weathered red door to an interior of retro flourishes, like the funky cash register on the countertop. The inviting dining area, flanked by white brick walls and wooden floorboards, is somewhat petite; with seating for only around ten to 12 people, it pays to get in early.
Sample the menu and you’ll understand the other reason its seats get quickly snaffled. Inexpensive and beautifully presented breakfasts and lunch dishes are lovingly prepared from organic ingredients. A smoked salmon platter might be accompanied by dill chèvre, shaved Spanish onions, capers and toast, all served on a rustic wooden paddle. Or to continue with the North American theme, try the homemade waffles with maple syrup and berries, or the good ol’ crunchy granola. Gourmet baguettes are available during lunchtime – the ham off the bone, brie and caramelised onion is a winner – and salads and chalkboard specials round out the fare.
This tiny sliver of the Big Apple is sure to delight, especially as the coffee at Luncheonette actually tastes good.
173 Rankins Rd, Kensington
Open Tues–Sun 8am–3pm