Discovering wonderland, at Bayswater’s ‘The Hatter and the Hare.’
Much like Alice, I followed my impulses and dived into the metaphoric rabbit hole. Rather than finding myself in another realm, what I discovered was a marvellous café in the outer eastern suburb of Bayswater.
Unlike Alice, I didn’t need to rely on my imagination for this experience – I let my senses guide the journey. From the moment I entered the large open space, I realised good things come to those who wait and no matter how long it takes, a dream will eventually become a reality.
You see, the team behind The Hatter and the Hare; Vinnie, Mary, George, Con, and Becky, have been working on this spot for over 2 years now. They began their journey in the hospitality industry around 7 years ago at their local patisseries, the Sweet Spot and envisioned one day – having their own café with bakery on site; where people could indulge in High Tea and they could share their sweet treasures with the masses. The Bayswater area lacked a decent café, which Melbourne’s inner suburbs are renowned for.
A love for Alice in Wonderful, and the famous “mad tea Party” inspired the venues name. You won’t find any peculiar ‘anthropomorphic creatures’ here; heck the baristas don’t even have beards. The staff are ever so friendly and have an organic way of making you feel at ease. I actually felt like I had been here 100 times before, which is rather ironic, considering they only opened at the end of last month. I gazed at the Synesso MVP Hydra, absorbed the fresh vibe brought on by the lush greenery scattered around the open plan dining area – and rather serendipitously began to feel as though I was in wonderland. Zwei Interior Designers are responsible for the green themed energetic fit out; lining the walls with cream coloured biscuit shaped features that resemble the bases used in pastries, contrasted by bold black tones above. The 160 seater venue also has a courtyard, where herbs, edible plants and fruits are grown for use in the kitchen. Multiple eye catching terrariums scattered around the venue, which if you look close enough into, you may just find Alice and the Rabbit. There’s a ‘high tea’ section with a feature flower wall behind the front bar, which looks into a glass window behind which the pastry chefs weave their magic.
Coffee is sourced from 5 senses – with their Dark Horse blend for milk based coffee, which is made up of Colombian, Indonesian and Tanzanian beans. They also have single origin beans for espresso and filter coffee. My espresso was made using the Colombian Primaveral, which is a washed Caturra. It was exactly as the tasting notes suggested- a sparkling acidity at the front of the palate, with a lingering sweet aftertaste. I couldn’t resist the Kenyan filter brew, which was a SL14 varietal grown at the Oreti Estate. This coffee left me with a “Wow” feeling! It was super juicy – you would be forgiven for thinking it was mixed with raspberry juice. Brewed to perfection and as it cooled, the flavours further developed. I had to take a leaf out of Alice’s book (Pardon the pun) and believe the impossible…. If you’d have told me I would taste such an incredible coffee in the industry area of Bayswater back when I started my coffee journey, I would have struggled to believe you.
The Hatter and the Hare’s belief in the impossible, is an affirmation of the notion ‘what is life without impossible hopes and dreams anyway?’
The cleverly crafted menu has some Alice in Wonderland themed options, such as the “Unwanted Marriage proposal” appropriately served on SOUR-dough bread; “Down the Rabbit Hole” acai berry smoothie with granola and fresh fruit; the “Queen of Hearts” spiced custard sourdough with lemon verbena berries, orange and earl grey ricotta and honeycomb; the “Benedictine Adventure” with 2 poached eggs on pressed pork and hash brown, topped with Yuzu hollandaise sauce and crunchy pork scratching’s. If you’re a fan of the burger, then you’ll love the ‘Tweedledee’ – Fried Chicken Burger, or the ‘Tweedledum’ – Angus Beef Burger, both served with beer battered chips.
‘Fear not vegans’, they have catered for those of us who are not meat eaters, with the Alice Goes Green Bowl, – the “Cheshire Cat’s Grin” – carrot, orange and fig salad, together with the Caterpillar mushrooms.
For those on the run, there are take away rolls, sandwiches, toasties, and of course a banquet of pastries, from éclairs, doughnuts, choux, petit gateaux and croissants.
Indulge in ‘the whimsical’; no matter how long you have to enjoy the moment. Unlike Alice in Wonderland, “Time doesn’t eternally stand still at 6 pm”, but they do open from 6:30am weekdays, and 8am weekends – so you have ample time to make your way out here.
I imagine this delightful café named in honour of a beloved ‘classic tale’, will itself be cherished and treasured by children and adults alike, for its exceptional coffee, mouth-watering baked goods and charming setting. I’d gladly fall down the rabbit hole with Alice again, take tea with the Mad Hatter, and convince the Queen of Hearts that I didn’t steal her tarts…. if it meant I could experience The Hatter and the Hare.
The Hatter and the Hare.
1/21 Scoresby Rd
Bayswater VIC 3153