Sitting pretty away from the buzz of Flemington's Racecourse Road, Wolf and Hound is a compact, Jack Russell-sized brunch spot. With just one floor spanning 35-square metres, the phrase 'big things come in small packages' has never been more applicable.
Tucked between the peeling paint and coffee-coloured tiling that runs down Pin Oak Crescent, Wolf and Hound's white-tiled interior beckons you in. First-time cafe owner Luke Whitworth says he wanted to create a space that was warm and inviting, and that came with 'dog-friendly perks for pooches'.
Ever true to his word, Wolf and Hound has an array of clever additions to keep your best furry friend happy while you grab your morning coffee or a lengthy midday brunch. There's a secure tie-up station attached to the concrete front of the cafe, with a metal water bowl and cosy doggie blankets for winter sharing. Dog treats are also available for those in the inner circle.
For Whitworth, sharing Flemington's local hotspots and his neighbourhood favourites was equally important to Wolf and Hound's character. "I wanted to make simple, fresh, honest food and throw down the best coffee in Melbourne's west," he says.
Wolf and Hound's coffee beans come from Kensington's Rumble Coffee Roasters, a relatively new player in Melbourne coffee scene, with a rotating menu of single-originals and filter roasts. Perfect for purists and mocha-drinkers alike.
Created by kitchen manager Kate Minto in collaboration with Rumble Coffee, the menu is specifically designed to suit the cafe's small fit out. Neat and efficient, what the menu lacks in options, it more than makes up for in simple, flavoursome meals. Choose between classic brunch options, like crumpets or a darn good avo smash ($13.50).
But it's the toasties you'll want to order. In keeping with the exceedingly hospitable, intimate nature of the cafe, the toasted sandwich creations are named after Whitworth's fuzzy pals: Gracie the greyhound takes the namesake for a garlic broccoli and cheddar number, while Franklin the wolfhound heralds the impressive Cuban. Not a hound but just as beloved is Grizz the cat — after whom the soft thyme-buttered mushrooms and shaved pecorino toastie is named ($13.50). This one's a must for veg-heads and carnivores alike.
Swing by Wolf and Hound on Saturday and you're more than likely to encounter a few sociable pooches and people, along with Whitworth's infectious cheerfulness. In Melbourne's competitive cafe scene, finding this kind of sincerity is few and far between.
But at barely 24 years of age, Whitworth is outrageously humble. "I would be lying if I said that I had created the next Code Black," he remarks.
And Wolf and Hound isn't Code Black — it's smaller, more local and completely personable. But he's onto something. And for the first time this afternoon, I don't quite believe him.