The other side of the tracks: Gardiner and Field, Armadale

Armadale has relied on one coffee shop for far too long and a newcomer to the area is ready to change the status quo.  Coin Laundry has been the golden child of the suburb and has been much revered in the press to that effect. I have been on numerous occasions – the first time I sampled their banana bread with espresso butter, which I liked enough to bring WordMonkey back for a visit. But on our return the breakfast was not up to standard, and the dishes we ordered lacked flavour. Keep an eye out for it in one of our 2012 wrap-ups.

After speaking to the crew at Woodfrog Bakery, who are supplying the carbs to the new venture, they suggested we pay a visit to Gardiner and Field to give them a test run. Having only opened for their second day of trade, they were doing quite well for themselves as locals swarmed to welcome them to the suburb. It also helps that there is a tennis club right across the road.

This is owners  Jesse Feldy and Nick Gardener’s first business after previously working together for many years at the Woodstock Espresso Bar on High Street.  They found this site – a disused milk bar and house – a year ago, but due to the vast amount of red tape and hurdles from VCAT they have only just been able to take the newspaper pages down from the windows and open their doors to the public. It’s weird to think that you are eating inside the previous owners bedroom/lounge room.

You can see much thought has gone into the design of the café, which sees a daffodil motif pop up on the windows.  Much of the fit out came with the help of close family and friends, but it was also lucky that Nick’s family are in the interior design business, which helped them with the slick shelves, tables and selection of chairs dotted throughout.

In keeping with the essence of the milk bar they will stock basic provisions and are providing a single origin coffee, El Salvador (La Fany), which they believe will be new to many of the locals so they are pushing to get the word out there and hoping that people give it a go. Everything they sell to the public is also used in-house by the chefs and served to customers, so if you like the jams or relishes you should take a jar home with you.

Georgia Tully is the head chef and previously headed up The Willim just down the road. She has devised a fashionable menu and, again to keep the milk bar factor alive, you also have the option of a spider or milkshake (Snickers, Bounty, Maltesers, Cherry Ripe) to whet the whistle.

Changing the breakfast menu up a bit I overheard as someone was leaving that the spiced quinoa, pumpkin and chickpea fritter were the best she has had. And how interesting does the baked rhubarb and strawberries rolled in French toast tortillas with orange, mint and a sprinkling of granola sound?  Lunch includes an interesting selection of house-made toasted flat bread, sandwiches and salads.

I was all poised to order the main special – Herb crusted Rockling with beer batter chips and spicy tomato relish ($16), which looked absolutely mouthwatering. But since I had feasted on a burger and chips at Hare and Grace the previous day, I changed my mind once I saw the sandwiches emerging from the kitchen. I settled on the Thai chicken, carrot, rocket, chilli jam and fried shallots.

If the second day of trade is anything to go by I suggest you to get in sooner rather than later before word really gets out.

Gardiner and Field

43 Union Street

Armadale, VIC 3143

(If coming up Kooyong St from Dandenong Highway, turn right immediately after crossing the bridge over the railway tracks)

Ph. (03) 9078 1125

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