Freelance writer exploring Melbourne and beyond. If you enjoy the following article click on the Like button, Facebook it to your friends or subscribe. I'll update you with yummy and often free events. Like my photos? I instagram @redbagwilltravel
Anyone who knows Box Hill will tell you that it is a commuter hub - a major train station, a bus depot, a market and a mecca for food lovers. If you haven't visited this suburb then it is a must. There are streets full of Asian restaurants (ask to be pointed in the direction of Carrington Street) and a food court that is amazing in its ethnic diversity.
Into this bustling throng, Platform 3 suddenly arrived on the scene with its startling modern facade. The food here is Australian with an Asian twist, which we shall come to.
But my first lure was the great coffee. It has become routine when walking to work to become purposely waylaid here with a mug of coffee and the daily papers, which run the gamut from the Australian to the Hun. With such excellent coffee at $3.90 a mug it seems time well wasted.
Looking up from the papers, it became clear that this place was concept driven rather than just simply another cafe.
So it was not surprising to learn that it is a finalist in the 2012 Melbourne Design Awards. For some great pictures of this cafe click here.
The huge emblazoned sign in startling bright neon light is a clue to the concept. If you dug through the restaurant's floor, you would find yourself in the bowels of the station below standing on Platform 3.
Any number of cafes latch onto the railway theme but this usually only extends to a couple of posters of the Flying Scotsman, or a smiling Thomas the Tank. But here the feel is as if you were waiting in a railway station transit room.
The long hardwood communal tables give the sense that we are all in this together folks - which is the aim- you are supposed to feel like a commuter waiting here with other people for your train to arrive.
Seating is mostly on squat wooden stools that look somewhat like milking stools. While they may look precarious try and move one and you will find they are rock solid and when you are seated they are surprisingly comfortable.
Looking up you can see that the ceiling has been removed leaving a dark cavernous space with exposed pipes and air-conditioning shafts. As well as adding to the feel of spaciousness it is also in keeping with the industrial theme.
Encased pendant light bulbs hanging down from this space occasionally swing in the breeze just like lights on a rollicking old railway carriage.
Much of the timber is recycled railway sleepers. Each piece chosen for its fascinating imperfections.
Surprisingly this cafe has no walls. The side facing out to the bustling food court is completely open. Another side faces out to the mall. This side is mainly glass with a huge section that opens up in summer so you can enjoy the breeze. The outside seating is always well utilised especially with people having a beer on a Friday after work.
Which is another great addition. Prior to the advent of Platform 3 you had to walk all the way to the RSL to get a drink. Box Hill is sans pubs because originally it was a totally dry area. Now you can get a drink here and sit out in the open, under the umbrellas.
The third wall of upright sleepers has large open slats between each sleeper so you are never totally divorced from the passing throng. Which is kind of nice. The cafe recognises that this is a thriving metropolis and that people like people watching.
The colours are all industrial but in the nicest way - a grey highly polished floor and rusty red wire fixtures. But embedded into this are occasional flashes of bright yellow, and startling blue pin pricks of electric light. Rather like sparks coming off a railway track.
The total concept is a celebration of the rawness of industrial materials.
The food is interesting. In the cabinets are a large array of pastries created in-house, vast trays of chocolate brownies, or coconut and jam slices. There is always something great here to have with your coffee and these items are always reasonably priced.
When you are near-broke take advantage of the $1.50 homemade sausage rolls. They are quite unusual and peppery.
It is hard to decide whether this is a cafe, a bistro or a restaurant as there are elements of all three.
Lunch can be as simple as focaccias with coffee or a restaurant meal such as chilli prawn spaghetti with homemade Napoli sauce ($11.90) or braised lamb leg with caramelised fennel. white bean puree and purl wine jus ($17.90.)
While the restaurant is listed under Australian cuisine there are lots of concessions to the fact that Box Hill is mostly an Asian suburb. So for example you can buy an Asian omelette with Chinese sausage, prawns and coriander ($10.90) or an Asian beef strip salad. ($17.90).
On Thursday nights, they have a great deal which is a steak and a pot for $15.90 . While the steak comes with chips it also comes with a mound of delicious spinach to make up for your transgression.
This has also become the place for after work drinks. The usual pots and vinos. But they also do some interesting coffees such as the Italian Classico with Amaretto, the Sultan's special with Baileys or French coffee with Grande Marnier. And there are accompanying drinking snacks such as homemade spicy nuts ($3.90) bbq chicken wings ($2) and prawn dumplings ($4).
Something is really happening in this little corner of Box Hill. Platform 3 is in a cluster of three unusual places. Next door is MovenPick which Megan Edwards has already reviewed and next door to that is the ever so fascinating Cha't Chinese tearooms which offers a very different experiences for Aussies.
All have outside seating under umbrellas in the mall. There are outside heaters in winter and I plan to go there on a summer's night just for a cheap meal, an ice cream and a relax. People look so happy sitting outside there relaxing and imbibing.