Thursday, September 11, 2008


Whenever I'm on holiday I like to start each day with a visit to a local cafe. There can be no better way to start one's day than with a well-made cup of coffee, a good newspaper, and maybe a little something carbohydratey. Perhaps scientists will one day discover a better way to start the day, probably around the same time they invent individualised Jessica Albas, but not yet.

Yesterday I tried out two cafes that a friend of mine recommended. Thus was I launched into...

A Tale of Two Cafes

by Charles "Where's My Damn Affogato?" Dickens

The first cafe was Velvet Espresso, nested in the permanent shadow of the surrounding buildings on King Street between Hay Street and St George's Terrace. The first thing I noticed about it was that it was very busy, packed with people who by all rights should have been in their offices at 9.30 on a weekday morning. Didn't they have work to do? And didn't they have the exact same espresso machine in their conference rooms? Why were they here?

Obviously I am not au fait with the ways of the business world. It seems that Velvet Espresso has always been popular with the sort of obnoxious suits who are bullying their way up the corporate ladder in the skyscrapers next door. You know the kind: 30-somethings in fitted pink business shirts who drop the F Bomb in every sentence to show how hard and street they are. A quartet sat next to me, comparing nightclubs they'd been to and new waterskiing equipment they'd purchased and which of their circle had lately become even richer. In a word, loathsome.

However the coffee was good, subtle and unpresuming but full of flavour. My New Norcia fruit toast tasted like toast that had been politely introduced to a grape at a party six months ago then promptly forgotten its name.

The second cafe was Tiger Tiger, which came about, I suspect, because someone really wanted to be in Melbourne and wasn't going to let the little fact that they were stuck in Perth get in their way. Like inner Melbourne's iconic cafes, Tiger Tiger is tucked away in a crooked laneway, only reached by passing through a short tunnel from Murray Street.

The vibe was far more relaxed and alternative than at Velvet Espresso. There were still arseholes in suits everywhere, but they were quieter and not waving their enormous penises at each other quite so much. Some creative types were holding a job interview at a nearby table - no doubt when they got back to their design consultancy or graphics studio or whatever it was they powered up their Apple Macs and emailed someone named Gustav.

The furniture was worn and battered, mostly from the 1930s and 40s, and complemented by edgy urban artworks and random potted plants (begonias next to a cactus next to some flat leaf parsley). My coffee and homemade pain d'amandes arrived on mismatched charity store crockery, and Portishead played softly overhead. It even started drizzling while I was there, adding to the Melbourne vibe.

As for the coffee, it was good. It didn't smack me in the face with its awesomeness, but it did all of the things that good coffee is meant to do.

While I don't think I'll bother with Velvet Espresso again, unless I suddenly find myself needing to liaise with a dickhead in a $2000 suit about fiscal projections, I'm certainly going to put Tiger Tiger on my list of holiday haunts.


Anonymous Doc said...

I'd like to say that I had just read one great item.

However, the truth is once I hit the phrase "individualised Jessica Albas" I've rather been in a daze...

Thanks for that.

8:38 PM  
Anonymous Emma said...

You are a fine, fine writer. Can you please write a sweetly acerbic, thoughtful and elegant novel one day so that I can read it? I am very thankful that males such as yourself live in this city/world as well as the boring wankers in suits cluttering up the cafes.

8:53 PM  

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