This cafe serves up African and Indigenous Australian flavours, plus an after-dark offering on Thursdays through Sundays.
African flavours don't get all that much of a look-in on Melbourne's cafe scene. Indigenous Australian cuisine, perhaps even less. But at Elwood's Tennyson, they're both heroes, served up front and centre with pride.
This charming neighbourhood joint started life as a cafe, recently adding a carefully curated after-dark offering on Thursdays through Sundays.
Coffee is taken seriously here, showcasing a house espresso blend from mates at Hallelujah Coffee Roasters. It's backed by a rotating single origin that features in Tennyson's cold brew coffee varieties (from $6), and was crafted in collaboration with Graph — a cafe based in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The aim of this project is to dive deeper into the whole coffee process, from beginning to end, fostering intercultural relationships along the way.
There's plenty more cross-cultural celebration emanating from the kitchen, where native and African flavours are pulled cleverly together into a modern Australian cafe menu. Avocado smash comes paired with wattleseed dukkah and mealie bread (a kind of South African corn bread) ($16); mushrooms are matched to grilled polenta, native basil and a crispy poached egg ($16); and a lamb salad is reworked with roasted eggplant, saltbush and sumac yoghurt ($21).
Pasta lovers will find a spaghettini spiked with boerewors sausage and tomato ($17.50), while dessert might see you tucking into some house-made papaya banana bread ($4).
After dark, things get a little more refined, to match a tight offering of approachable yet interesting wines and cocktails. Smalls run to the likes of shredded eggplant with nduja and black garlic ($12), while bigger appetites will appreciate options like the peri peri chicken maryland matched with chakalaka vegetable relish ($24).
Images: Connor McGill and Nella Fullard