If you build it, they will come. That's what Kitty Burns did. They built it, and come they certainly do — in their droves. With so many cafes in Melbourne, let alone Abbotsford and its surrounds, what is it about this one in particular that has people flocking?
Could it be the look? Designed by Biasol: Design Studio, there's a minimalist Nordic feel with its light, bright and airy interior and flourishes of pastel, blond wood and abundance of plants. Breaking out from the white tiled, exposed bulb look Melbourne seems to be currently flaunting, the clever play with architectural form and geometry could well be a drawcard.
It could be the location. Situated at the base of the Sanctuary apartment development just across the road from Victoria Gardens and IKEA, Kitty Burns overlooks the Yarra with all the leafiness of riverside trees and open sky that that brings. It is just up the steps from the Capital City Trail, so it's the perfect pitstop for walkers and cyclists.
Then there's the intriguing in-joke of a name. Word on the street is that the iconic Skipping Girl sign down the road was modelled on five-year-old Kitty Minogue when her brother sketched her for a competition run by the vinegar company in 1915. Or the other word is that there was another little girl, Alma Burns, whose skipping caught the eye of the vinegar factory manager and inspired the famous neon light. Either way, a combo of these names is a nod to the area's local history — and that always goes down well.
It could also be the extensive beverage choice covering all bases from Allpress coffee and tea by Storm in a Teacup through to fancy sounding smoothies such as Get Ripped or Die Trying and Ode to Baklava. There's also a selection of enlivening elixirs created and fermented by naturopath Rosemary Walmsley.
Or is it the food? The menu was designed and launched by British chef Aaron Duffy, and, since his departure in January, has been ably managed by a team of chefs who have never missed a beat and consistently serve stunning dishes. Given the amount of attention it gets on social media, the Eton Mess ($14.50) with its coconut yoghurt, strawberry textures, spiced meringue and activated buckwheat clusters served in a glass with some floral adornment, is a popular choice both for its visual and gastronomic appeal. The spiced togarashi avocado ($13.50) is also a beautiful and tasty dish. If you're just swinging by for a snack, the cabinet is filled with raw treats and, come the weekend, the counter is laden with Bistro Morgan doughnuts — although only briefly. Those syringe-loaded balls of dough fly out the door.
Whatever the reason for drawing the crowds, Kitty Burns brings it. And if you haven't already checked it out, it's about time you did.
Images: Ari Hatzis and Jo Rittey.