Slipping into leafy Carlton North without a hitch, Small Victories has been doing its thing quietly and consistently for a few years now. Unassuming? Yes. Ordinary? Definitely not.
Minimal on the decor, a modest street front means that Small Victories is a surprise upon entry. The expansive marble front bar leads towards the back of the cafe, where the light filled atrium could feel like your very own living room. It holds a touch of the glamour and polish you'll find east of the city, but with all the unpolished, effortless charm of the inner north.
Small Victories takes on the typical Melbourne breakfast with gusto and complete control, bringing our favourites — like an expansive selection of eggs — into the modern age, with just a hint of British flavour. By specialising in only a few dishes, this cafe has cultivated a name associated with high quality and stellar presentation. Don't associate this with boring or bland dishes, however — the organic yoghurt panna cotta, plums, figs, berries, sour cherry chai and sesame crisp ($14) is a piece of art in itself. Meanwhile, the apple Bircher muesli, house made yoghurt, nut cluster and organic honey ($12) is generously dished and will have you satiated for hours.
At lunchtime, contrasting flavours, textures and colours continue. Delve into honest salads such as the coconut braised chicken, papaya, cucumber, shallots and soft herbs ($18), or a range of house made pastas that vary from fusilli to penne ($19). Even better, Small Victories is fully licensed, making it the ideal spot for a lazy Sunday afternoon drink on the Rathdowne Village sidewalk. Exceptional service makes this cafe the kind of place where regulars are noted and new visitors wholeheartedly welcomed.
It's the incredible attention to detail that sets this inner north cafe apart. While we don't need a reason to celebrate with food, with such a triumphant name, Small Victories is a wonderful excuse to do just that.