As the last of the warmth of summer shows its face in Melbourne, Hobba Café and Kitchen is making the most of the change of seasons. With the huge, hinged service doors of this ex-tyre factory folded back, there’s no barrier to either the constant flow of customers or the toasty rays of sun which come streaming through. Families, commuting business folk and couples sprawl out in the approachable space and wrap themselves around another coffee and tuck into the bubble and squeak.
Launched in July 2011, Hobba has undergone a number of subtle shifts in focus and layout. The large, open space with soaring rafters and exposed brick work is the epitome of the sturdy, comforting warehouse aesthetic which suits the café experience so well. The original floor plan has been adjusted to create a range of new nooks and crannies to settle into and some more dining space at the bar. In an exciting move, Hobba has also recently started opening for dinners on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and, as of the end of March, is launching a new dinner menu making the most of local seasonal produce.
Talking with co-owner Josh Powell, you really get the sense that he wants to make Hobba accessible to as many people as possible. ‘We wanted to create a space that has a broad focus — nothing outshines anything else and the food, coffee and service all have equal standing.’ The all-day brunch menu definitely reflects this ethos, with Josh’s background as a chef in fine dining bringing some serious technique and knowledge to bear on café classics. There’s a range of the usual suspects, refreshed with a little twist, like the Istra bacon, kasundi and fried duck egg sandwich and the super popular Bubble and Squeak — the brown butter hollandaise adding some luxury along with the no BS slab bacon and fried egg. For those interested in venturing into newer territory, the daily specials board rotates regularly and, at the time of writing, was tempting me with the slow cooked lamb ribs, Israeli couscous, pickled red onion and white bean hummus. It was kind of hard to look past the pork belly and pumpkin puree with roasted fig, cauliflower and redlof too. Actually I’m pretty sure pork belly is its own food group.
The coffee definitely hasn’t been overlooked either — a custom house blend offers milk coffees a comforting consistency, while a rotating range of our house single origins offers dynamic options for those wanting to explore the world of coffee further. Our recent Colombian Caldono was being served last time I was there and its sweet, caramel hit up front followed by some delicate winey, red apple bursts was the perfect companion to the morning paper. It’s great to see this traceability and engagement with food produce being followed through on the coffee front at Hobba.
While the space and service encourages you to sit back, relax and enjoy your coffee and food, you can be comfortable knowing that there’s been a lot of thought and preparation put into the concept of Hobba. If you haven’t been yet, head on down and add a new regular destination to your map. If it’s been a while between cappuccinos, drop by to see the latest updates on the exciting new autumn menu and a space that continues to evolve.
428 Malvern Rd
Monday — Wednesday 7:00am — 5:00pm
Thursday — Saturday 7:00am — 11:00pm
Sunday 8:00am — 5:00pm