Smith + Singleton is in an unexpected location: tucked neatly inside the former Royal Children’s Hospital Entrance in North Melbourne, they’ve made the most of this unusual location by giving it a red cross theme which is vaguely reminiscent of the neon signage at Smith & Daughters. But that’s where the similarities between these two Smiths end.
Smith + Singleton rolls with an industrial-chic vibe that’s dramatised by splashes of red and tangled green vines, as well as striking Moroccan floor tiles. Its seating plan is a mixed bag of communal benches, intimate booths and high benches—with a couple of square tables and a loft area for good measure. There’s an open-plan kitchen, which means you can watch chefs Paul Dunlop and Lucas Sansome at work, and a long front bar which is perfect for bartender chats.
The menu spans breakfast, lunch and dinner, and showcases plenty of Middle Eastern, European and Asian flavours. Breakfast highlights include corn and halloumi fritters with horseradish crème and crispy shallots, and a classic smashed avocado with Persian feta and hazelnut dukkah. There’s an Italian influence at play here, too, with scrambled eggs strewn with buffalo mozzarella, torn prosciutto and fresh basil. Baristas brew a house and single blend from Axil, and there’s both soy and almond milk available. A good range of smoothies, juices and milkshakes round out the drinks menu, and you can pre-order your morning takeaway coffee using Skip.
The lunch and dinner menu both steer towards share plate territory, although there is a serviceable range of sandwiches to grab and go. Smaller bites for groups include polenta chips and chicken ribs, while larger plates offer up green curry beef cheek with fragrant rice and crumbed lamb cutlets with whipped ricotta. There are also seven different stone-baked pizzas (including a bacon breakfast pizza) that pair superbly with sides of char-grilled broccoli and roasted pumpkin. To drink, there are local and international wines as well as a house ale on tap and an excellent Pimms mojito.
Flemington Road is a funny place; dominated by enthusiasts of all things equine at certain times of year and hospital staff bustling to shifts at others. But it’s just shy of North Melbourne and a mere stone’s throw from the city, and unfairly overlooked as a dining destination. Smith + Singleton is bright, stylish and cheerful, with an interesting menu that ticks multiple boxes in the Melbourne café scene. Plus, it offers the best reason to be near a hospital we can think of, and provides a stethoscope-free solution to hunger pains.
Image credit: via Smith + Singleton Facebook.
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