While the utility of a café can be as simple as a hole in the wall caffeine hit, Adelaide’s best are those that you linger in, draw a sense of homeliness from and where you see the same people return to day after day for a conversation as well as a coffee.
Towards the top of Glen Osmond Road, opposite Ridge Park and nestled in the middle a small stretch of shop fronts is Melon & Rye. Formerly an organic food shop-come-cafe, the owners decided to reinvent the premises late last year, re-opening in February. Newly renovated, while the new café remains linked by an open door to its adjoining wholefoods shop it cultivates its own distinct, warm atmosphere.
At 8.30am on a Friday we found café owner Andy behind the counter rearranging her displays to accommodate freshly baked fig and cherry muffins (made with figs from a tree literally out the back of the building) and house-made salads. Every time a new customer walked in, she would stop what she was doing without hesitation to greet them. Some, like Glam, found a table to enjoy a quiet breakfast before their workday and watch the steady precession of take away coffee orders.
Those with time to sit are spoilt for choice. Without beating their chest about the quality of their ingredients (mostly from the wholefoods shop next door), there’s a bevvy of delicious food on offer. From your expected egg-centric breakfast fare to locally cured bacon brioche burgers, smashed avocado on buckwheat, sweet blueberry ricotta spread over a bagel with fresh berries and even a ‘Nutrition Bomb’ smoothie-in-a-bowl; Melon & Rye offer ten dishes for early risers plus a host of countertop temptations. Their juice and smoothie concoctions provide further opportunities for the fruit and veg from next door to be showcased.
So where to begin? Well, after skipping our morning yoga and choosing full cream milk in our coffee, Glam settled down to the Breakfast Pizza (see below). Crack open the perfectly poached egg on top and let the yolk and generous serve of hollandaise coat the marinated mushrooms, rocket and parmesan. Use your knife to crack the crispy flatbread base with liberally applied pesto into bite size morsels. It’s best devoured without cutlery. Just wipe your hands on your active wear if things get a bit messy.
After a ‘Reboot’ juice packed in our daily quota of carrot, orange, ginger and turmeric, we went back to the carbs and tried one of the fig and cherry muffins with stewed strawberry and cream on the side. With a puff of steam from the centre, the muffin just fell apart and a little lump welled in our throat from the simple pleasure of it all. This prompted a second coffee of the morning just so we could stick around a little bit longer.
Dialling back on the hype surrounding CBD café‘s that have their own patented styles of 10-hour filtration to extract the-cold-drip-your-life-is-missing for a moment, Melon & Rye would best be described as quintessential. The interior isn’t over-designed or flush with copper light fittings, the juices and smoothies aren’t served in jars, the seating is generously spaced and we even caught classic Alanis Morrisette playing in the background. These guys are genuine and they show their commitment to serving their neighbourhood. There were flyers inviting customers to come in the following day and meet the owner’s during the lunch service; an invitation to get to know Andy and her staff beyond the casual exchange and for them to share a little more of their story.
While the city brims with market sheds, food trucks, small coffee carts and alleyway adventures, suburbs remain built around certain institutions which, at their core, provide food and drink as good as any destination within the square mile. Melon & Rye exudes the quality of such institutions after barely two months of trading. Undoubtedly part of this comes as a result of the continuity of staff and management from the previous organic store, but you cannot underestimate the effort that has gone into establishing such an immediate confidence and comfort in their newfound direction.
While serving customers at the counter, Andy looked up to say a warm goodbye and thank you as we left, the same as she had for every other customer that morning. You get the feeling that Glen Osmond won’t be able to keep Melon & Rye to itself for terribly long.
Melon & Rye (& The Foodstore)
365a Glen Osmond Road
Mon to Fri – 8am to 4pm
Sat & Sun – 8.30am to 3pm