Located just a competent frisbee throw from Albert Park beach, where gym memberships are fully utilised, power walking is a legitimate activity and the dogs are freaking massive, the Petty Officer is the newish project from the good folk behind Axil Coffee roasters in Hawthorn.
Occupying a restored Victorian corner building, the fit out is slick with massive windows opening out onto spacious footpaths that could easily accommodate half a dozen Bernese mountain dogs. Several luxurious bench spaces inside mean the solo diner can request a table for one and read the morning paper without feeling like a leper.
Our long macchiato arrives quickly with that tiny-jug-of-milk thing that a lot of cafes do now but remains a mystery to many. Still, it's a solid shot of excellence – Axil coffee have built a strong reputation for themselves and the Petty Officer isn't about to break ranks.
Head chef Dan Woolard (ex-Il Solito Posto) makes everything bar the bread from scratch from a hefty wagyu beef burger to plump potato gnocchi. The smashed avocado with feta, radish, mint and lemon looks like the popular breakfast choice but it’s their corn, zucchini and mint fritters that are worth making the journey for. Artfully presented with fresh Bloody Mary salsa, sour crème and celery salt, even if you found this dish elsewhere, it's unlikely to be as fresh and well balanced. Add a couple of poached eggs and you’ve got yourself a meal sir.
The pickled cauliflower salad manages to team up more exotic super-foods than a marvel comic: quinoa, freekeh, pomegranate, pine nuts, currants and cumin labne. It makes a delicious case for vegetarianism, but get it to share – by about the halfway mark, we’re ready to leave the cumin-freekah party.
And let's hear it for licensed cafés! The PO now offers a modest but well chosen selection of red and white wine, beer and cider which means that by the end of summer the Petty Officer ought to have more fans than the Melbourne Grand Prix.