Cafes

Eltham Welcomes A Second Home

By Sarah Willcocks - 22 Sep 2015

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Second Home Eltham Best cafes in Melbourne
Best cafes in Melbourne
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Best cafes in Melbourne
Best cafes in Melbourne
Best cafes in Melbourne
Best cafes in Melbourne
Second Home Eltham Best cafes in Melbourne
Best cafes in Melbourne
Best cafes in Melbourne

Opening last week, Eltham cafe Second Home is exactly that for co-owner Catherine Westwood.

“I grew up here so this is home for me... It's like you've given birth and now you've got a new baby in your hands."

She runs the show at the north-eastern suburb's new go-to cafe, gallery and bakery, in collaboration with prolific restaurateur Jason Jones, who Catherine has known and worked with for a decade.

With Second Home, they've given us the lyrical "home among the gumtrees", residing in a mud-brick building designed by renowned local architect, the late Alistair Knox in the early 1970s.

While the space isn't heritage-listed, it does have significant history. Knox was ahead of the curve for a mid-century designer as a champion of natural and recycled materials.

Maybe that's why the cafe feels comfortably timeless, shifting between the decade of its construction and now.

"We wanted to be true to the era, not that it screams 70s," explains Catherine. "We were after the mud-brick era - not the trashy 70s - the time you still had simplicity and craftsmanship".

Afternoon sunlight filters poetically through a canopy of eucalypts onto original exposed beams and handmade bricks, catching on the olive tree centrepiece, which is a new addition.

Interior designer Brahman Perera pays respect to the 70s through worn-in Persian rugs, heavier woods and crafty details like earthenware and ceramic light fittings by Porcelainbear.

Second Home's harmonious vibe is enough to make you involuntarily uncoil from all that pesky urban tension and exhale.

Exhale... and then immediately inhale a plate of chef Gerard Phelan's sold-out "spag on toast" (with homemade pasta, pecorino and sourdough, it's a little bit fancier than your average microwaved tin of Heinz).

Catherine suggests that the Gerard, who has moved over from Daylesford's Moor Please, wants to "challenge Eltham a little by showing them something just a bit more unusual, while still having your cheesy toast, big breakfast and smashed avocado".

Unusual is the aforementioned "obligatory" smashed avo sprinkled with Vegemite salt. In place of porridge, you might find a breakfast risotto topped with drunken berries. Speaking of drunken, Second Home has a libations trolley that comes to your table (that's it, I'm moving in).

There is also a mini-provedore, featuring baked goods and preserves to take home alongside cheerful spring posies and handmade trinkets from Catherine's own homewares project. Plus, you can expect their glorious courtyard to open in late October.

As home to old artists' colony Montsalvat and as a gateway to the Yarra Valley, the area is "very big on art, but not terribly much else" according to Catherine.
 
Second Home embraces this by acting in part as a retail gallery. With exhibitions running seasonally, the cafe is currently featuring ‘The Road to Remarkable’ by Melbourne artist Chris Pennings.
 
Catherine says they will opt for pieces that are "a little bit urban, subtle, moody", so you can feel free to feel a bit cultured here, at least until you summon forth that libations trolley for the third time.

Image credit: Sarah Martin-Alcaide for The Urban List

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