Proudly bearing a sophisticated blue and white café fit out which pays subtle homage to the homeland of its owner, Uncle Bart’s in Blackrock Victoria is about to celebrate its first birthday. A year ago, Chris Arhondonis set out to bring a fresh new quality-driven approach to the café scene of seaside haven Blackrock in Melbourne’s southern suburbs. Twelve months down the track, he has firmly proven it to be a Greek-influenced recipe for success.
In an area known for its village-like feel, Uncle Bart attracts a local audience from all walks of life. Chris reckons it has become a genuine local hang out. As he says, ‘Sometimes it feels like my customers are visiting me, and the café is like my living room’. This is a good thing — as from the first days Chris has pretty much lived behind his shiny 2 group Synesso, pouring heart and soul into each cup of Five Senses Dark Horse Blend. His dedication to serving the best quality espresso and really stepping up the local coffee offering has generated an ever-increasing loyal following, with many customers returning 2-3 times a day for their fix, plus of course a catch up with the man behind the machine. A recent addition to the coffee menu is a rotating Five Senses single origin offering for his devoted coffee followers.
Sharing the menu with great coffee, Uncle Bart sees many pilgrims come in search of Chris’ mum’s home-made Greek lemon tea cake. Possibly the best in Melbourne, this is unsurprisingly the most popular of all the menu items. Not far behind, however, are treats from the other side of the family, with his mother-in-law providing traditional Greek biscuits. Drenched in icing sugar, these biscuits are the perfect partner for a strong black coffee. What was initially almost a one man band is now a burgeoning, family supported team.
Uncle Bart’s menu really reflects the overall approach on all things good and often familiar to Aussies — but with a back bone of Greek sensibility. This sees, for instance, corn fritters and avo smash partnered with Greek feta, or the good old meat pie meeting Greek pastry deliciousness in the form of traditional Kreatopita. I can attest to just how great the Spanakopita is at Uncle Bart, and the triangular Tiropita filled with feta and ricotta (whilst capable of flooding a car in pastry) are close to the perfect lunch in my opinion. All this home-made goodness is supported by other quality-driven suppliers such as daily bread from Geelong’s La Madre Bakery and additional sweets from Little Bertha.
The diverse crowd at Uncle Bart extends to the caffeine hungry cycling community. Blackrock sits along the inner harbour coastline which forms a hugely popular cycling route. Whilst this sees a number of early morning mid-week cyclists hunting down a fix at Uncle Bart, at the weekend it’s especially common to see a plethora of bikes stacked up outside the café and lycra-clad coffee drinkers clip clopping in and out in fancy shoes. With summer rapidly approaching, Chris reckons they’ll soon be downing his signature iced coffee, the Freddo Cappuccino. This is two shots of Dark Horse espresso over ice in a tall glass layered with cold frothed milk. It’s a killer on a hot day and Chris will tell proudly tell you, ’It’s the new summer coffee’.
So here’s a celebratory cheers from Five Senses for the first year of Uncle Bart’s. Here’s to many more years of continued success, growth and evolution — Greek-style.
607 Balcombe Rd,
Black Rock VIC 3193
Monday — Sunday 7:00am — 4:00pm