It's a long, long way to Santorini but it's not far to McCrae where a passionate evocation of Greek island life is drawing diners for mezze and feasts, christenings and work parties and, above all, easy, breezy vibes served with professional poise.
The usual yum cha narrative goes something like this. You wake on a Sunday morning feeling shabby, perhaps unaccountably, possibly for sins well remembered. Dumplings call and fried calamari and, if you’ve grown up with them, chicken’s feet, too.
Amarillo means “yellow” in Spanish and it gels perfectly with the warm sunshiny feel of this new all-day cafe and bar. I’ve been here for morning coffee, when motes float in still air and you can hear the sound of a crisp newspaper page being turned.
Ned Radojcic didn’t get the memo about South Yarra being a gluten-free suburb and he somehow accidentally opened a bakery here. In come the locals, shimmering in their activewear, bemoaning the problematic and pesky presence of flour. Radojcic, a Yugoslav aircraft engineer who arrived from Belgrade in 1989 with $238 in his pocket, begins his ‘breaducation’.
Finally, it’s opened! For a year, Elsternwickians have been watching the long empty Caulfield Rifle Club and adjacent plaza transform into an indoor-outdoor space for all-day eating and meeting. They could not have dared hope it would be this good.
If you’re bored with breakfast in Melbourne, you mustn’t be trying. When you’ve munched too much muesli you can move to matcha bowls. If you’re tired of toast there are waffles in the wings. And when you’ve smashed every avocado in sight, you’ll see coconut pannacotta jiggling with excitement as its moment in the spotlight approaches.
Sometimes a restaurant opens and you can almost hear the sighs of relief around the neighbourhood followed by a hundred plans clicking into place. “Let’s go to that new joint for coffee and eggs.” “Why don’t we meet at that place on the beach road for a cheeky spritz?” “I can’t be bothered cooking – let’s just go to Beau for some steak and fish.” “We should have dinner with them: what if we head to Beau for a slap-up dinner and an easy roll home?”
Some people know exactly what they want the new year to bring. If you’re Hana Assafiri, owner of Moroccan Deli-cacy, you might sum it up as peace, falafel, understanding, haloumi and empowerment, hopefully all at the same time. Assafiri is an activist, chef and businesswoman. She’s been cooking, cultivating friendships and being fabulously fierce and feminist for two decades at the Moroccan Soup Bar in Fitzroy North.