Russell Spear enjoys starting people’s days off well. Walk into his café and you’ll be greeted with a cheery grin and a light hearted, “How’s it going mate?” It’s this innate sense of hospitality which led Russ from a long and glorious career with the Essendon Baseball Club to opening a café in a building which housed a Strongman’s gymnasium for over 30 years. Welcome to Apollo; you’ll be treated well here.
Situated just off Spencer on Hawke St, West Melbourne, the café occupies the ground floor of a former warehouse which was built in 1926.
The faded yellow façade reads ‘The Mighty Apollo’, a flashback to the gym which Paul Anderson operated here from 1956 to 1992.
Anderson was famous for public acts of strength and is credited for introducing martial arts to Australian society. Apollo is named in homage to that gym, and though it might be more modestly monikered, its offerings are just as strong.
Take the pickled mackerel with fennel lavosh and soft boiled egg, for example. The mackerel is purchased whole, then broken down and pickled in house. The resulting dish is a taste explosion; it was so popular at Russ’ previous café that they moved it from being a breakfast item to ‘available all day’. The menu reflects a truly international palate with other dishes ranging from nourishing Indian mulligatawny soup to classic French crepes with lemon curd.
A racing green Synesso takes centre stage on the coffee bar, offering Dark Horse as the blend and Ardi as the single origin option.
Come for the warm welcome, stay for the food and marvel at the wonders of Apollo – it’s mighty indeed!
109-111 Hawke Street,
West Melbourne VIC 3003
Monday – Friday: 7am – 3pm
Saturday: 8am – 3pm
Sunday: 8am – 3:30pm
© Photos provided with permission by Emily Bartlett. All rights reserved by photographer.