The Box Brownie girls are building on their wheat-free empire with this sharp little café

We’ve always liked the word zeitgeist. Sounds sort of zesty and delicious. It means the spirit of the times and Tomboy, the latest café to hit Smith Street, embodies the zeitgeist of the café scene. They’re flying the flag of simple deliciousness with a sustainability bent – you’ll find some house-grown greens between the chewy halves of a smoked salmon cream cheese baguette, and that foliage is doing some grunt work filling out a hefty vego-friendly bowl of salad too. Coleslaw, say, packing apples, celeriac and a whole lot of nuts. Drinks are served in upcycled VB bottles-turned-glasses and you'd best believe there’s a hotdog on the menu. Theirs is a fat spicy snag dutifully Mexicanised with an embellishment of black beans. There’s a carefully curated mag rack catering to the Monocle and Smith Journal junkies too.

There are all the things you you expect in this 'hood – Seven Seeds coffee, and a polished airy space decorated with stencil art and retro fixtures like the giant milk bar sign glowing above the counter – and some solid perks. Like the fact that you can buy vials of honey from the Rooftop urban beekeepers, and that the owners here are the two dames behind boutique gluten-free baking company Box Brownies, meaning almost every last fist-sized peanut butter chocolate cake is delicious and safe for you and your glutarded pals. George March and Pia Hambour have mastered the art of wheat-free cooking. And while some things are bettered by their glutinous counterparts – the gingerbread cookie is a little dry and sandy – a fudgy chocolate-raspberry cake is worth a poke, whether you’re a coeliac or not.

This is a better brunch than breakfast proposition. You want to go when it’s late enough to add cake to the party without feeling like a pervert, and the regularly edited menu, scrawled up on a butchers paper roll, is a little frugal. Not for those who like a plated menagerie of beasts to break the fast. A poached egg and ’shrooms on toast (gluten free, or regular stuff from the ovens of Fato a Mano bakery nearby), or a modest smashed avocado number is about as elaborate as it gets.

Go for the tart, switched up daily. Ours is a chunky union of beetroot, fetta, chilli and toasted walnuts with a fair whack of Tomboy’s spinach, barely bound with egg in a biscuity gluten-free base. Get it with their lemonade. It’s sparkling and all bitter-sweet with fresh lemon, served in an old school half pint milk bottle with a candy cane coloured straw.

Tomboy is clearly the work of a young enthusiastic team keen to share all of their favourite things, from flowers in jam jars to bunt tins in bathrooms. Hightail it in and support these up and comers.

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First published on . Updated on .

By Gemima Cody   |   Photos by Graham Denholm   |  

Tomboy details

356 Smith St

Melbourne 3066

Telephone 03 9486 0162

Open Tue-Sat 7am-4pm; Sun 8am-4pm

Tomboy website

Melbourne area guide

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