Full of hot young things and cool old things, the Auction Rooms café and roastery serves tram-trip-worthy coffee
Going to North Melbourne is like getting out of town without having to get up early, argue with bogans, or risk bad coffee. Errol street looks like it could easily feature in an ABC period drama given a scattering of gravel and the addition of a pony or two, and yet at the Auction Rooms, you’ll find one of the most definitively modern menus in the city. Aesthetically intriguing with stalactite-like poly pipe chandeliers, vintage soup cans as sugar bowls, and a large, central, dramatic coffee bar decorating the old WB Ellis auction rooms, this is the place to take your mum, boss or ex-partner for a look-how-classy-I-am brunch, lunch or brew.
Keen to educate their public, they offer a Saturday morning cupping session at their syphon bar, and it goes without saying that these guys boast their own roast- under the name of Small Batch. We liked the sweet ‘Candyman’ blend they were serving when we went, but since they like to keep it fresh, the blends and single origins on offer will be in constant rotation.
Thanks to their roaster reputation, the coffee for most is the draw, but cop an eyeful of the menu, and you’ll stay for longer than you anticipated, and most likely keep coming back till you’ve worked your way through the brunch, lunch and dinner lists. Designed by owner Adam del Mastro, the offerings are original to say the least. We weren’t sure about “the counter bid” breakfast that saw poached eggs mingling with an unlikely plate of grilled asparagus, verjus-poached peach, coconut tapioca, and pomegranate dressing ($16) but were intrigued enough to give ita whirl. Balance wise, it wasn’t perfect, but being an interesting departure from baked-sodding-eggs, we’re willing to walk a little on the wild side for the sake of something new. Back on more conventional ground, the banana bread ($8) is a hot door wedge of moist brown sugar infused goodness, and with a slowly melting dollop of contrasting espresso butter, you are left with no doubt that this is not a healthy option. For lunching, get involved in a “knuckle sandwich” ($14.5) partly because the name is awesome, but mostly because the braised pork knuckle, piccalilli, rocket and aged cheddar roll is something the Earl of Sandwich would be proud to know was part of his doughy legacy to the modern world.