Bing Boy is a newbie on the quick service food scene. It is the Asian version of a French Creperie. Omelette is cooked to order, filled with yummy things like BBQ duck, cucumber, sweet & sour carrot, salad and hoisin sauce, then wrapped and it's good to go. I particularly like the clean graphics and easy to read menu format. Look for it on the lower / station level at Melbourne Central.
Miss Chu x 2 (Melbourne)
I met Nahji (a.k.a Miss Chu) a few years ago at her first tuckshop off William Street in Sydney. Since then she has evolved the concept considerably and now has outlets in both Sydney and Melbourne (and has sold Miss Chu licenses into New York, London, Paris and the rest of the country according to the fabulously flamboyant floor boy in the South Yarra store). It was good when I bit into the first rice paper roll and remains so. Retail evolution and store growth is not an easy road so I am more than delighted to report the brand and offer is better than ever (particularly love the graphic and store design direction too ... it's honest and on trend). Kano Hollamby is the designer for this South Yarra store (happy snaps above). Bring on Brisbane and the rest of the country I say!
Design & the Bottom Line
Mid way through last year the owners of a 'run of the mill' cafe in Kew decided they wanted to 'get a bit groovy' and appeal to a more urban bod / 'Yummy Mummy' type living in this well-heeled leafy suburb. Some good advice from a regular coffee client (an architect) was ... "engage a good interior designer and work with what you've got". Comer & King got the gig along with very modest budget (nothing new there, but in this case spent with maximum effect ... which is why you call in the expert in the first instance isn't it? ).
Once a new name, brand identity and colour palette was established and the interior concept agreed the C&K team got busy. A couple of dodgey old doors were replaced bright blue new ones (hard to miss as you are driving down High Street and the owner's loved the idea ... "we thought it was brilliant - we really stand out on the street now"). Freshly painted tones of steel blue, charcoal and taupe gave the dining spaces definition. A side board was painted and relocated. Popular pop blue Tolix chairs, new tables, some fab light fittings, an oversized clock, a collection of plates with friendly food motives (hand drawn by Cameron Comer) and a bicycle bolted to the wall completed the transformation. Seating was reconfigured to provide 20 more seats (70 in total).
The owners are delighted with the results, both aesthetically and from a customer perspective (they are voting with their feet and wallets ... which was the intended outcome of the exercise). Without wanting to appear too nosey about their business, I understand they are now grinding through a lot more kilos of coffee each week and a strong Saturday trade has been established (a poor trading day before the make over) (FYI there were also line ups out the door and down the foot path in the first few weeks after re-opening which has now settled into a solid, sensible pace!)
Initially regulars thought the cafe was under new management. They soon figured out it was the same owners and same chef serving up their familiar favourites. Within a week or two word had got around and they were back ... along with a whole swag of new customers who had not considered it an option previously. I do love the pulling power of good design. Done well, it makes a big difference to the bottom line. Nice work by Comer & King who did both the branding and interior.
Fat Penguin, 713 High Street, Kew East, Melbourne.
To see more gorgeous interiors work go to www.comerandking.com
And for a peek at what it looked like before the make over ...
A Peek at Pollock
In addition to being on the global snoop for what's new in seasonal decorations and retail, I have cooked and styled a couple of food shoots with uber-fab international photographer, Robyn Lea, whilst here in New York. Robyn recently photographed the home and studio of Jackson Pollock in East Hampton, Long Island. Being a serious foodie, she was interested in more than just the art side to this editorial. The Foundation provided some favourite Pollock recipes which I whipped up and Rob worked her camera magic on this week, including making fresh bread from scratch - haven't done that in years - it turned out a treat!
Andy & Dan are the lads behind Hawthorne Garage, a welcome newcomer to the deli / cafe / speciality food scene on Brisbane's south side, which is somewhat lacking from what I can see (and equals opportunity from where I sit and tap this out!).
There's an espresso window out the front serving up DNA coffee, seemingly popular with the yummy mummy's who reside is this well heeled pocket. Inside you will find all the goodies you might need for a quick top up shop or dinner tonight, a small deli counter offering a popular, quality range and a hot roast chook if you can't be bothered turning on the oven. A great range of Levain breads (Brissy's best baker according to me) and their mini flourless cakes. Pick up some fresh blooms from a small Campbell & Bradley Florist stall as you head out the door. Being an old garage the industrial bones have been retained and polished, and there is parking out the back.
You can find this modern little grocer giving the south side a tune up in both the food and service stakes on the corner of Orchard Street & Hawthorne Road, Hawthorne. Big thanks to the lads for letting me take some snaps, I am sure they will do very well here with their first venture. Open 6am to 8pm daily. Hawthorne Garage, 255 Hawthorne Rd, Hawthorne QLD.
The word on the street is…
Simple retail story telling - spotted near the corner of High & Chapel Streets Prahran.
Pick ‘n Mix
Now in it's third year, Southbank's Regional Flavours was a big hit with Brisbanites this weekend. The v. talented team from Gloss Creative put together the experiential areas including a fabulous fluoro wheelbarrow garden where visitors could pick 'n mix their preferred herb combination to make a hot tea infusion (I am off to buy a lemon verbena plant for my garden after sniffing that stunning aroma). Screen printed burlap bunting transformed 2 big-top tents into eye catching event spaces, and they were obviously the 'place to be'. Specialists in all manner of foodie topics talked to full houses at each session from what my little eye spied. Southbank do a great job with community events and I'd have to say the sheer number of artisan producers who gathered in the gardens was pretty impressive.