Blencowes is fast becoming a Balaclava institution, the sort of place where the barista greets you by name and you get to say 'The usual, mate' and feel totally boss. But if you live north of the Yarra (or even a couple of suburbs over) you've probably never even heard of it.
Blencowes started last year when a couple of self-proclaimed Perth beach bums, Josh Burrows and his sister Tansy, took over the old milk bar under the rail bridge on Inkerman St. Forty years ago, kids would have sat under that bridge, drinking malt and waiting for iPhones to be invented. Now southside hipsters with moustaches and Hawaiin shirts are rocking up to Blencowes for Huevos Rancheros (house-made corn tortillas topped with spicy beans, fried eggs, cheese and avocado salsa) or the Mushroom Special (thyme-roasted field mushrooms, roasted red peppers, goats curd & rocket on grain toast, topped with sumac, walnuts and a balsamic glaze).
The decor is 100% hodge-podge vintage. Collectible spoons like your grandma used to have, flamingo salt and pepper shakers, mismatched chairs and local artists on the walls. It looks like an op-shop crossed with a pirate ship. The place is unpretentious, and the Burrows siblings run it with a breezy local swagger. A few months after opening they held a pyjama party (just coz) and half the neighbourhood turned up. It's that sort of place.
Of course, being in Balaclava, the front cabinet is stocked with traditional, fresh-made bagels (it's technically illegal not to sell them 'round here), while the menu itself has a slight South American twang (one of the chefs, Tansy's partner, is Colombian). The coffee is Wild Timor, grown wild on the mountains of Aileu, Timor Leste, and your hot chocs and capp's come served in a big old tiki tribal head mug. Basically, Blencowes is that rarest of Melbourne venues: the one that doesn't take itself too seriously. Josh and Tansy run this thing for FUN (and probably also money)...and the locals bloody love it.
Image credit: Blencowes Milk Bar