Growing up in the country, I saw the top paddock as where the old, never-to-be-ridden again horses were kept. Top Paddock in Richmond is no such place. This little patch of greenery is where some of Melbourne's most loved cafe owners have struck gold once again. Located next to a beautiful strip of green grass and filled with floor-to-ceiling windows, it does have its own touch of the great outdoors.
Nathan Toleman, Ben Clark, and Diamond Rozakeas — who brought us the likes of Liar Liar, APTE, Three Bags Full, and Two Birds One Stone — have got newcomer Sam Slattery on board for this one. With a little bit of Three Bags Full and a Touch of Two Birds One Stone, the interior of Top Paddock is beautiful and light and has a real sophistication about it that not many cafes do. It's a huge space offering small tables, communal tables, outdoor seating, and even bar seating where you can watch the baristas at work.
Speaking of coffee, they are pumping out Five Senses coffee as a house blend ($3.80) as well as doing in-house roasting with green beans. Their focus here is really matching the coffee with the food.
Jesse McTavish is heading up the kitchen team and is offering quite a unique breakfast menu. You will, of course, find your staples of toasts, mueslis, and eggs anyway you like. But you might be surprised by dishes like the white anchovies and jamon serrano with fried eggs, pedron peppers, and manchego on toast ($18) or the kingfish with a chilli fried egg, avocado salsa, and lime and blue corn tortilla ($17.50).
For something sweet, the ricotta hotcakes with blueberries, maple, seeds, and organic mascarpone ($15.50) is a real treat. The servings here are generous. A side of avocado might usually come with a few tablespoons on the plate, but here you get the whole half an avocado, in its skin, with a spoon. Two words: brunch heaven.
Top Paddock is also open late on Friday nights, making it the perfect spot for a drink and a nibble, in an area that is truly starving for something just like it.
Images by Lois Romer.