Television Producer & Photojournalist with a passion for sharing adventures in and around Melbourne, Australia. See my www.youtube.com/user/tmztvaustralia for other adventures. Subscribe to me so I can tell you of upcoming fab things not to miss.
Published September 29th 2020
Find the tiniest, tastiest cafe in Australia in Emerald
Australia is known for it's big. The Big Banana, the Big Pineapple, the Big Sheep, and the Big Koala just to name a few. And I have been privileged to travel to many of them as a young lass over the years.
But just locally, I have found the 'tiniest' cafe in Victoria and possibly all of Australia. I send this as a challenge to all other WeekendNotes writers; find these inspirational tiny cafes!
I stumbled upon this ripper cafe across from my local shops when I was picking up groceries. It was delightful with tiny tables and tall comfy stools and people enjoying alfresco lunch, takeaway coffees and fresh locally inspired cakes. It gave me a feel of a tiny slice of France, tucked into the beautiful leafy green town of Emerald, Victoria.
The kitchen part of the cafe, which is called Cafe Nookee, is probably a maximum of 2 metres across to 3 to 4 metres long by my eye. The alfresco deck probably the same size again.
Now my husband swears by my ability to estimate size...no, not that....but any space on the wall for art. So I did not bother to get out my tape measure but I think I nailed the size. The secret is, it is the perfect area for one or two staff to move around and prepare loving foods and barista coffee.
Eliza Gutowska (Kasia) with her Barista
This gorgeous cafe is the brainchild of Elisa Gutowskal whose nickname is Kasia. Kasia has been in hospitality for many years and she has worked in many crazy busy places with big crews and saw how stressful it could be on the cafe owner. So when she decided to start her own business, she wanted a more personal touch, where she could visit with the locals, call them by name, and prepare their food exactly how they craved it.
While I interviewed her, I gained the impression she was an extremely creative chef, who wanted to innovate her own personal space with a caring touch and scrumptious tempting food. And nothing is too much for her customers. The first time, I visited this alfresco cafe, I ordered a bacon, lettuce and tomato toastie. She had run out of tomatoes. She handed me some cash and said, "Please, you run across to the grocer and get the freshest tomatoes." I was happy for the leg stretcher while she fried the bacon.
Have a peek at this tiny cafe and have a taste delight
I returned with tomato and the mouth-watering feast was promptly created among orders from others, chats about life, and smiles all around. When she had a moment to breathe, I spoke to Kasia and she said, "I wanted a place I could run myself that was not so hectic. I have been here for about 1 year. I first wanted to try to create a cafe cart in the council buildings but that did not work. I then approached the supermarket across the road. They were interested, but there was no room. It was the lovely lady who was running the Nostalgia Shop next door that suggested the tiny space attached to the local feed store was the perfect venue for a cafe. I have wonderful before and after photos. It only took two weeks to build once council approvals were in place. On the weekends, it gets so busy, I have another barista come in and help for 4 hours."
Kasia offered me a free coffee, which shows she is extremely generous. I replied, "I can only have one a day and my hubby makes it for me first thing in the morn at the top of the day". I am very spoiled, every morning, my hubby makes me a proper cappuccino with froth and the lot. And I told her about how I had gone to a cafe in Camberwell, across from my Myotherapist, and the barista had drawn a teddy bear face in the top of the coffee. I took a photo and sent it to my hubby and quipped, "You are going to have to lift your game". She nodded, "Oh yes, my barista does coffee art, I took the course as part of my hospitality training, but she does it far better."
Ohh lala, coffee art
Just while I was there chatting and taking photos, there were four different groups ordering and leaving with treats. There are parking spots literally in front of her door, so it is very accessible. And it is styled like the best "Block" house - immaculate inside and out. It even has an alfresco roof over the deck, so even in the rain, you can wait in the dry.
Yummy local treats by the locals for the locals and tourists
Her menu highlights speciality coffee, toasties, gourmet pies, kids menu and delectable local treats to share. The local treats seem more like a High Tea at the Winsor Hotel in Melbourne. She has a crafted a yummy gourmet menu, which you can see a www.nookecafe.com.au
And a bit of the menu is below to tease your taste buds. The hours are very friendly, with only one day off for Kasia and her sidekick.
Tuesday – Friday: 7:00 am – 3:30 pm
Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays: 8:00 am – 4:00 pm
She also supports the other local businesses highlighting their flora arrangements as part of her decor.
Local florist Rustic Blossom shows off wares at cafe
Nookee Cafe is the teeny weeny shop connected to the feed store which is the first establishment on Emerald-Monbulk Road, in Emerald Victoria. I find Kasia inspirational. She created her own niche and has made it a raving success even with two other competing cafes just around the corner. But the locals keep flocking to her warmth and treats and boutique coffee.
There are so many reasons to come to Emerald - playgrounds, a pool, paddle boats, walking tracks, fishing, Environment Centre, model railway, cafe and a railway station for Puffing Billy ... many are included in the Emerald Lake Park Picnic Grounds.
So when you get to Emerald, search out the quaint and inspirational Kasia at Cafe Nookee, which regular locals just call 'Nookee'. And treat your family to something extraordinary. Then gather all your treats up and head to Emerald Lake for the perfect day out.
I have also anticipated a valid question. Should cafes on wheels be included? I think not, although, they are all the rage now.
I feel the tiny cafe competition must be a ground-based business. I look forward to reading more about tiny cafes across Australia and hope to explore them all in the future - especially ones on the beach.
Most photos by myself, Tricia Ziemer, but thank you to Kasia for some photos from her website.
Just a taste of the menu to tempt you to travel:
Uncle's Smoked Ham, Cheddar, Mozzarella, Tomato (optional)
Mushrooms, Organic Pesto, Vintage Cheddar and Mozzarella
Spicy Sopresa Salami, Organic Pesto, Mozzarella, Vintage Cheddar, Tomato and Chili Flakes ( Optional )
Smoked Kessler, Pickles, Sarepska Mustard, Massdam Cheese And Mozzarella
Croissant With Banana & Strawberries Drizzled With Pana Hazelnut Chocolate