Monaco House, 22 Ridgway Place, Melbourne
On a bright yet cold July day, I met with D at our usual CBD corner to go for lunch. I’ve really enjoyed being able to pick a different lunch location every day – being in the CBD at lunchtime is a bit of a rarity for me. On this occasion I chose Liaison, a coffee focused cafe down a laneway off Little Collins Street, fitted snugly in the bottom floor of architecturally-forward Monaco House.
Outside there are a couple of bicyles, some tulips growing in paper-bagged pots, and an adorable red stencil of people dancing and skipping running along the window. Inside, the room is small and quite narrow, but I think they’ve done well to put the open kitchen in the middle. The intensely blue feature wall is so shiny it’s reflective, and there are a pretty assortment of bell jars and tuna tins on the benches and shelves. On the counter in front of us was a plastic bag of lemons and bay tree branches that a friend had dropped off earlier that morning to be used in the kitchen. How thoughtful.
The coffee was very good, my latte was strong and nicely warmed (the perfect hand warmer!), and the froth had a wonderfully smooth consistency.
There is no menu at Liaison, just a daily selection of sandwiches and baguettes (which looked really good), a soup, and a salad. The salad when we went was a cold tuna rice salad; the soup, chicken. Both D and I looked at the attractive black pot of soup, thought of the cool weather outside, and ordered a bowl each. The soup was quite thick but had a nice flavour, and I liked the chunks of celery, potato and leek in it.
As we were paying, the friendly owner/barista Danny Colls asked about my camera, and when I explained that it was for my blog, he excitedly exclaimed to his co-ower Siany McLaine, “Ahhh, an intrepid blogger!” I was so pleased to have him express such interest in the blog; he asked what it was about (“Food in Melbourne”), how often I wrote (“As often as I can”), how many hits a day I got (“One, and I’m pretty sure it’s my mum”), and what other blogs I read. I listed my favourite, and he said “Ah yes, she’s a lovely lady, she comes in here every day”. How cool! Someone who writes a food blog that I read comes to this cafe regularly. It was such a strange feeling, because often blogs and bloggers are reserved for nights at home, in bed, mac on your lap, reading quietly to yourself. The realisation that they’re real people living and moving in your city is quite surreal.
As we were making to leave, Danny asked “So what are you going to write about Liaison?”. I said something about the awesome coffee and bay leaves on the counter, and he said “Yeah, yeah, keep it positive – because if you write a negative review, I’ll pull your toenails out, one by one”. This last sentence was said slowly and with manic eyes. But then he laughed and said “Relax! Glad to hear you enjoyed the coffee”, and gave me a massive smile. Then as I was taking a photo of the outside, he continued to mouth the words “One by one” to me in a mocking (?!) way.
Empty threats aside, I really enjoyed Liaison: a place with good coffee, decent food and chatty staff. Do try it.