Crumpet & Co
Raclette-filled toasties, homemade crumpets and freshly baked croissants await at this cosy Keilor East cafe.
On a typical weekend, you'll find easygoing locals and many dogs (impatiently waiting for their owners) outside the wide windows of Keilor East's Crumpet & Co. Named after their dog, Crumpet, Tim Cori and Hannah Morris' small cafe evokes the nostalgia of old-school Aussie suburbia in Melbourne's northwest.
With a combined 30 years' experience in the hospitality industry, the duo always felt confident they had the recipe for success. But it wasn't so straight forward.
"We took a gamble on the quiet corner shop location in Keilor East," says Morris. "It hasn't been easy."
Although it has been open for well over 18 months, Crumpet & Co recently received council approval for outdoor seating. A Padre coffee sign is now perched on the corner, signalling to the specialty coffee you'll find inside. But the real star of the show at Crumpet & Co is the sandwich.
"We always planned to keep things simple with a small menu that focused on bloody delicious sandwiches — food we wanted to eat ourselves," explains Morris. "Our menu has become a little bigger than we planned, in order to appeal to people who aren't used to such a niche concept."
While bread is supplied by Fitzroy North's Dench Bakers, Cori and Morris make everything else themselves. Their storeroom is filled with jars of piccalilli, herbs and spices and they roast porchetta on the weekends, too, and make olive tapenade. And a lot of these ingredients end up inside two slices of bread.
"It seems like every week it's a different sandwich's time in the spotlight," says Morris. "Though the brisket and the chicken cotoletta are perennial favourites, for sure."
Another highlight is the Best Cheese Toastie, in which gruyere, raclette and green tomato chutney combine to elevate the humble cheese toastie far above its usual lazy late-night snack status.
Before pursuing her passion and taking pastry classes, Morris worked as a nurse. Today, she fills the pastry cabinet with a rotating menu of homemade cakes, pastries, doughnuts (filled to order with Nutella, jam or custard), croissants and mega choc-chip cookies. On top of the cabinet, in a little glass jar, is a batch of 'doggy treats for good boys and girls'.
Further inside the cafe, a feature wall boasts green-hued tropical-leaf wallpaper. A handful of avocado plants sit on the counter and copies of Lucky Peach and New Philosopher are stacked in neat piles for customers to read. It's cosy without being claustrophobic.
"Before I moved to Niddrie, I lived in North Melbourne and Fitzroy, and loved going to my 'locals' where the staff got to know me and made me feel so welcome," says Morris. "Easily the best part of starting Crumpet & Co has been becoming part of the local community, and the great chats we have with our regulars."
During the lunch rush, Cori and Morris greet almost every single customer by name. They talk while making coffee, putting sandwiches together and waiting tables. Oh, and making crumpets.
Crumpet's famous homemade crumpets are worthy of a journey north alone. They're served with cultured butter and classic spreads, or, alternatively, with poached pear, ricotta, vanilla and cinnamon.
As far as hidden gems go, Crumpet & Co is well worth the visit.
Images: Melanie Basta