South of Johnston, the dream of Fitzroy resident Stuart McKenzie, is a cool if not chic cafe in Collingwood that beckons you to visit. With great cuisine, excellent service and a hot fit out (in an old valve repackaging warehouse), South of Johnston is a standout cafe in a highly competitive precinct.
The name is interesting. South of Johnston is a clever variation to the famous SOHO area of New York (South of Houston). Of course it's south of Johnston St and just off the main strip of Smith St. SOHO in New York is a place of artists lofts and galleries. And South of Johnston cetainly has that eclectic feel.
This is a hot fit out - not a case of someone visiting a few op shops for quirky pieces - this is a well thought out high class fit out involving Carver Design. Ambience is enhanced by mood lighting with hanging lamps, the distressed timber floor, a large terrarium, the high ceilings, the funky artwork, the quality leather and cushions against the exposed brick wall, and the cast iron fireplace which was roaring on the day I visited (complete with nearby couches). With cool music playing and a great selection of magazines and other publications, it is warm and inviting.
I would describe it as Miles Davis cool.
Not to mention the tables near the entrance in a little courtyard complete with a dog in a kennel. The dog was also Myles Davis cool. then there's a cool converted room with shared tables and benches. Intimate and chic.
South of Johnston also surprised with the boxes of fruit trees out the front. The vision is of an urban orchard. Apparently local residents will be encouraged to pick as they pass.
Visiting South of Johnston for breakfast was a sublime ocassion. The menu is professionally put together and extensive. Breakfast options range from the healthy Granola and Muesli to the Field Mushrooms with fetta and beetroot relish on quality sourdough, to Pancakes and Smashed avocado.
I ordered the Field mushrooms option and it was sensational. The goodness of this dish stayed with me most of the day. A generous pile of mushrooms was sublime and they still had some firmness. Together with a generous amount of quality fetta and a killer beetroot relish, the flavour combination was superb. With these elements on quality seeded sourdough it was actually a simple yet filling and spectacular dish.
A popular option is the Pancakes with bacon and maple syrup, as is the Corn fritters. The French toast with organic brioche is also a stunner.
It's a foodie haven here. Lunch options include Potato gnocci with roast pumpkin, prosciutto, baby spinach, goats cheese, and toasted pinenuts.
The coffee here is also great with a new large coffee machine and excellent barista skill. My espresso arrived on a dainty English saucer.
On the way out I had to grab a Coconut, chocolate and rasberry muffin.
South of Johnston is a highly impressive cafe that one would want to return to. It beckons.