Locals can be a tough set to win over, but if Phase Two’s mid-week crowd is anything to go by, they’re doing something right.
Arriving an hour shy of close and the cafe is a hive of activity. The kitchen’s busy prepping up food and the La Marzocco is getting a workout as people mill around the large communal table that dominates the entry, or retreat to cosy side booth seats. Not bad for a rainy Wednesday afternoon in Balnarring.
Nestled between a boutique and a bakery, the decor has a decidedly Melbourne vibe, with airy white walls, polished concrete floors and hanging pots of leafy ferns suspended above a glass counter displaying kombucha and fresh juices by Helping Humans.
It’s the new kid on the block, in a good way.
The modern Australian menu takes it cues from local produce with a side of city finesse. A prime example, their Rye Chai panna cotta with crunchy, homemade granola, honeycomb, blueberry gel and a scattering of edible flowers. It’s fresh, vibrant and different, without feeling overdone. If you’re after something more low-key, you can have eggs (free range and locally sourced) any way you like them. It’s also the only cafe in Balnarring you’ll find beans by Mornington coffee roasters Commonfolk.
The cafe runs an all-day brunch, so if you fancy a Balnarring Bene – Phase Two’s take on an eggs benedict – at 2pm, go for it.
Owner Vanessa Fraser, who runs the cafe with her husband Brendan, brother Nick and his partner Scott, says it was important to take advantage of the local produce while bringing some newness to the neighbourhood.
“We wanted elements of local to be part of the menu, but we didn't want to restrict ourselves, she explains. “There's a very sustainable, eco-friendly, organic vibe in the area. Anything vegan, anything fresh.”
“The community has really got behind us. Everyone has been so complimentary. Ultimately people were looking for a change here. The village hasn't had much love for quite a while so we really felt like, you know, hopefully we could bring something (to the area) that wasn't there before.”