Advance Australian Fare
The smashed avo is redefining breakfast around the world
Stand up and be proud, Australia. Paris has its bistros, London its pubs and New York its steakhouses. But we have our cafés and the gospel of smashed avocado and the flat white (or as The New York Times describes it, “an Australian espresso-and-steamed-milk drink that is neither a cappuccino nor a latte”) is converting diners across the globe. That’s right, a band of Australian entrepreneurs is showing the rest of the world how breakfast should be done.
Look no further than the Bluestone Lane group (bluestonelane. com), headed by former Australian banker Nick Stone, which has opened 30 outlets in five short years, cementing itself as a serious bi-coastal United States proposition. Or Portland, Oregon, where Nolan Hirte has opened a sibling to Melbourne’s acclaimed Proud Mary (proudmarycoffee.com). Or Berlin, where Father Carpenter (fathercarpenter.com) slings poached eggs with avocado and thirdwave coffee with the elan of a tattooed barista in Sydney’s Surry Hills. Yes, it’s safe to assert that from New York to Singapore and all ports in-between, the ascent of the Australian-style café has been our gift to the world.
So where did the revolution begin? Most fingers point to Bill Granger, who in 1993 unveiled his eponymous café in Sydney’s Darlinghurst, which has since grown into an empire spanning four continents. You could call him the Escoffier of brunch, the man whose fluffy ricotta hot cakes revolutionised the culinary grey zone preceding lunch.
“The New York Times and Washington Post have credited me as the inventor of avocado toast and I’m happy to take it even though it’s not strictly true,” says the affable Granger. “I think what really happened is that Australian cafés back then tended to be very Italian in focus, very bready and heavy, and what we did was introduce an Australian flavour that’s healthy and vibrant and warm.”
The bottom line of the new-wave of Australian cafés is that they’re not simply exporting smashed avocado and ricotta hot cakes; they’re exporting café culture. For Granger, that’s why his businesses and others that followed in his footsteps have enjoyed success with an international clientele. They provide an escape from the everyday through well-designed spaces, excellent coffee, attractively plated dishes and customer service that’s laid-back while also being attentive and friendly.
“People don’t go to church so much anymore but the idea of the café as a friendly neighbourhood meeting place – that’s what’s really taken off,” says Granger. “And the coffee’s much better, too.”
Here’s our pick of the best Australian cafés in seven cities around the world.