Browns sounds like the name of a small, country bakery that has been run by the same family for generations. However, the Browns I am referring to is quite the opposite: a bakery/cafe chain that has stores right across Melbourne. What is unique about these stores however, is that while they have all the products and amenities of any modern cafe, each store has the feel of a small country bakehouse with its own unique charm.
Take the Carlton store for example. It is tucked away, near the corner of Lygon and Elgin Street, Carlton. The store is quaint and cosy. The walls are made of brick, the tables are wooden and the freshly made bread sits in shelves behind the counter. The whole atmosphere is one of a rustic bakehouse, and yet, paradoxically, it also has all the elegance and refinement of an upmarket, inner city cafe. There is an open fireplace in the corner, and this makes it the perfect place to unwind on a rainy winter's day - and let's face it, such days don't necessarily have to be confined to the winter months when we are talking about Melbourne.
Browns is also an excellent place for reading a book or the newspaper. If like me, you get frustrated with the size of The Age newspaper, or alternatively, if you get annoyed by the fact that tables in modern cafes have a surface area smaller than your oversized coffee mug, you will appreciate the extra long table at the back of the store.
With a large variety of sweet treats, there is something to suit all palates and budgets. Take away a larger cake for a special occasion, or for the more health conscious, there are smaller treats such as muffins and slices. For those who are fortunate enough not to be burdened by a sweet tooth, Browns have savoury options such as pies, quiches and baguettes. And I have to mention the macaroons. Ever since I watched Adriano Zumbo build that enormous macaroon tower on Masterchef, I have become something of a connoisseur. So, for anyone like me, who has since become addicted to macaroons - these are amongst the best.
For all those people who are thinking that Brunetti's have the Carlton cake scene covered, I can only say that the day may come when you need a cosy, quiet place to rejuvenate away from the usual hustle and bustle. Browns might just become your regular Lygon Street hangout.
Next time you walk down Lygon Street, take a peek in the window of this stylish bakery/cafe - a peek will be all you need and before you know it, you'll be a Browns regular.