What is Forrest Gump’s password? 1 Forrest 1. So says today’s letter board at the new Bancroft Brewers cafe in Elsternwick. It seems to alternate between self-proclaimed “dad jokes” and—with tongue firmly in cheek —objectifying the baristas manning the La Marzocco machine here. “It’s a recurring motif that we roll with in all the venues we’ve been in. So we have them sign a contract, a little waiver, that they don’t mind,” explains one of Bancroft’s right hand men, Isaac Constantine. He’s been borrowed from Drugstore Espresso by cafe partner Ramez Abdulnour of Rosso Coffee. The other great minds behind this new Elsternwick venue include Jason M Jones and, in the kitchen, you’ll find chef Alan Wineera-Timu (formerly of Tonka/Coda).
The name Bancroft Brewers is a tribute to Henry Cyril Bancroft who helped establish Melbourne’s espresso culture in the 1950s: the guy sold coffee machines to the iconic Pellegrini’s of all things. So it’s fitting that the Bancroft Brewers come together, not to reinvent the wheel, but to offer up what they know works from their collective cafe experience. And this makes for a happy fusion.
The Drugstore Espresso crowd bring their highly caffeinated spirit to the party (including vague references to narcotics sneaking onto the menu), and a “health-oriented twist” to dishes bursting with chia, flaxseed and acai. While Jones brings the butter (French, of course), staples from Entrecote such as folded eggs for breakfast and a signature Hopkins River Beef cheeseburger slathered in herbed mustard aioli. Jason also brings his design nous via a swathe of live foliage, optical-illusion tiles and a spray-painted, 80s-esque commission by illustrator and tattoo artist, Ky Loh.
Popular among the young families and weekend warriors who frequent the space are Bancroft’s surprisingly cheap take away coffees. Early on a bemused customer commented, “$2.50 coffees?! Must be pretty shit!” recalls Isaac, who humbly responded, “awww, I wouldn’t say that.” Slightly less humbly he reckons you should give the coconut green curry a go. “I might be a bit biased because I came up with this one but it’s amazing. We actually serve it in a coconut husk and serve the coconut water as a drink to go with the meal. That one’s a bit of a novelty but it’s delicious!”
So it’s so long to The Moor’s Head in these parts. But a hearty hello to Bancroft Brewers. Lucky Elsternwickians.
Image Credits: Justin Mclean