Carnegie's new café Left Field has been in the making for six months. If you know what the space on the corner of Koornang and Leila Roads looked like before, you'll understand why. The building, famous among locals, used to be the bright pink home of a suburban Indian restaurant; now, in its reincarnation as Left Field, it's been painted in much more understated hues of white and blue. Inside, its fit-out — featuring wooden outdoor seating and indoor plants — is very similar to what you'd find at two other cafes by the owners, Touchwood and Tall Timber.
"It was a bit of a monster as far as demolition and renovation goes, but we're blown away with the results," says Ryan Lording, who comes from Tall Timber not only as a chef, but as a part owner as well.
Convenient really, as he lives just up the road. The locals in the area have been incredibly supportive of the new venture in Melbourne's southeast — many of them young families who moved from places like Prahran or Richmond to Carnegie.
"One of our owners was looking for a house in the area when we discovered this spot," he says. "A lot of the Tall Timber regulars moved out this way to live and start families. There's more space."
On the menu, the food toes the line between healthy and indulgent. There's the smashed pea bruschetta with prosciutto, goats' cheese zucchini and basil, and the beetroot-cured ocean trout with quinoa, avocado hummus and black tahini. But then there's the Benedict, the pulled pork burger (on a black brioche bun), the Oreo cookies and cream ice cream sliders and an array of colourful muffins, doughnuts and treats sitting pretty at the counter.
"People should be tossing up between five to six options, instead of the standard one or two possibilities on most menus," says Lording.
With the food, they serve Niccolo coffee along with specialty drinks like kombucha, Golden Grind (a latte mix of turmeric, cinnamon, ginger and black pepper) and Matcha Maiden. Despite opening to a strong customer base who have already made Left Field their local, Lording says there's still a lot to come, like outdoor roofing and heating. His aim? To make the eatery the food destination of the southeastern suburbs. And judging by the success it's had so far, that statement isn't actually too far out of left field.
Images: Melissa Cowan.