In an area surrounded by streets named after trees, Arboretum was a fitting title for Jamie Graham and Juan Tabares to christen their first café. They both travelled across the seas to make Australia home- Jamie from Scotland, and Juan from Colombia bringing with them the cuisine and goodness from their ‘motherlands’, and wrap it up neatly in this spacious corner spot on Glen Huntly Road, Caulfield. The interior was designed to echo the ‘green’ theme, while maintaining the industrial framework of this ground floor site. Concrete pillars are cloaked in potted greenery, and live ferns drape from above. Light timber furnishings, stainless steel serveries, and white tiles add to the crisp feel of the landscape. Wall art depicting trees soften the concrete walls at the rear of the venue, with an outdoor vertical garden growing fresh herbs used in the kitchen.
The timber arbour theme extends onto the coffee counter, with a customised Slayer Espresso machine featuring timber side panels. Jamie, who is the head barista, declared his intrinsic love for working on a manual espresso machine, and watching him work it like a charm confirmed Aristotle’s ageless quote: Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work. Not only does he put perfection in his work; Jamie extracted a wonderful Ethiopian coffee into my cup. Sourced from Syndicate Coffee, the Ethiopian Gigesa is a washed processed, mixed heirloom variety, grown between 1800 and 1950 meters above sea level in the Guji zone. Coffee from this private washing station is renowned for its fragrant floral aroma, and silky sweet peach flavours. It’s evident the team at Syndicate Coffee did this notable coffee with due diligence in the roaster, and Jamie matched that meticulousness with his extraction. For those who prefer milk based coffee, they have the sustainable Espresso Syndicate, made up of beans sourced from Brazil, Ethiopia, Colombia, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. It’s well balanced, with smooth caramel and rich chocolate tones.
Juan takes the reins in the kitchen, alongside Jamie’s wife Kate, who makes all the cafes sauces, relishes, cakes, and pastries. The menu inspired by Middle Eastern flavours to suit the area, as well as South American dishes that are a nod to Juan’s birthplace. All day offerings include Sweet Corn Fritters with guacamole and house made relish; Huevos Ranchos with slow braised chili beef on a tortilla; Shakshuka Baked Eggs; Papas Bravas fried potato with chili scrambled eggs; and the Arboretum Reuben with house made pastrami, sauerkraut, and manchego cheese.
In its second month of operation, Arboretum Kitchen and Pantry has already nurtured a community feel, and have plans in the pipeline for giant pans cooking up paella outdoors over summer, and the option of a drop of red/white, or a beer with lunch.
Arboretum Kitchen and Pantry
756 Glen Huntly Road