The morning sun slants in through the leaves of the majestic plane tree outside Short Straw. It's buzzing with breakfasters — and it's not even the weekend yet. But it's worth the wait to get into this little spot, where the art of the neighbourhood cafe is at its finest.
Although it only opened in January, it feels as though Short Straw has long been a part of the Hawthorn fabric, tucked as it is just off the increasingly cool bustle of Glenferrie Road. It's been happily coasting along, being and doing without a lot of hype.
This is coffee and breakfast as it should be. Chef Josh Clark (ex-Young Bloods Diner) has created a new menu for autumn featuring dishes we recognise and love, done well and with a tasteful twist and a flourish here and there. Cacao, cranberry and hazelnut granola is toasted to an appropriate crunchiness, and served with an organic yoghurt panna cotta, strawberries and a flurry of petals ($11). The eggs Benedict ($17) feature Grandmother Ham and some shaved apple to cut through the richness of the hollandaise. For those who want it all, the early board is an excellent choice; it includes a mini Bircher with granola, strawberries and yoghurt, prosciutto, avocado and poached egg on pumpkin toast and a glass of OJ ($18). All bases covered.
It's an all-day menu that runs through until 3pm — and while the breakfast dishes lend themselves admirably to lunchtime appetites, if you're wanting that little bit more, the kitchen produces a pulled chicken and freekeh salad and a hanger steak sandwich that will have you at apricot mustard. Specials appear on wall-mounted brown butcher's paper.
Drinks are divided into hot stuff, cold stuff and healthy stuff, which makes early morning decisions easier. Coffee is by Niccolo, which is an excellent bean for milk coffee, and perfect for the Hawthorn latte zone. There are also a green juice, red juice and a couple of substantial smoothies on offer.
The interior is a nice mix of white painted brick walls and wooden beams and an almost conservatory feel to the end room with its hanging plants and hexagonal metal and ivy wall feature. Short Straw is nothing like my kitchen, but there is something in the selection of music, the reassuring décor and the ambiance created by friendly staff that makes it feel like home.
Images: Jo Rittey.