Carolina is sweet. On sunny days she's full of light and on the weekends she's buzzing. At night she is sultry, but always welcoming, warm and understated. She lives on Nicholson, just over Park Street's thoroughfare where Carlton North becomes Brunswick East. She's a cafe, bar and possibly our fave gal this side of the bike tracks.
If you're lucky enough to have Carolina as your local then you're probably already on good terms. She's happy to hand out pre-tram takeaways and has your go-to Sunday morning breakfast down to a tee. On Friday and Saturday nights she's up for a good time — as long as you are.
Carolina's shopfront is unassuming — the window still reads Invicta: Italian hand made shoes — as is the interior that doubles as a cafe by day and a bar by night. The wood-panelled bar and exposed brick walls seem to allude to a European past, but it's the feature lighting and intimate seating that makes the space feel cosy, lived in and familiar. Don't sit down too quickly though — the courtyard is big, golden by day and enchanting by night; summer sees this courtyard fill up fast, but heaters keep it warm in winter too.
If you do come during daylight hours, breakfast will not disappoint. Carolina changes her menu seasonally and at any one time will feature everything from fritters to bratwurst to gingerbread French toast. For hearty, winter comfort food we wouldn't go past the organic wholegrain rice porridge infused with bay leaf and cloves ($14) or the smoky baked beans cooked with cinnamon, fennel and paprika, served with rosemary, lemon, feta and two slices of toast ($13). Add a crunchy housemade hash brown into the mix with a Seven Seeds coffee and you'll have no regrets.
Come Friday and Saturday nights (Wednesday and Thursday too come summer) Carolina leaves her doors open until 11pm for locals and passers-by to drop in for a few glasses of wine, some dinner and — no doubt — some interesting conversation. She's nice like that. Pop in and pay her a visit. And if you happen to live close-by to this lovely lady, well, you better count yourself lucky.