Bahar is a freelance writer and a wanderer who is determined to uncover all the secrets of Melbourne and share them the only way she knows how, through writing.
Published November 27th 2012
The perfect combination of design, coffee and food
This North Melbourne café, even though it has a loyal fan base of its own, has on occasion been attributed as the "quieter alternative to the nearby Auction Rooms when it is too busy", which is an understatement at its best. For those of you who are not familiar with the famous Auction Rooms, by all means go there, enjoy the beautiful décor, the efficient staff, the good food and the perfect coffee; however keep in mind that Twenty and Six Espresso, which is only a couple of minutes' walk away, offers something entirely different and is definitely worth giving a shot.
The first thing you will notice about Twenty and Six is that it is small, too small that you'll only find 4 tiny tables on one wall, a bench space in front of the window and a communal table in the middle with two smallish tables placed outside, and that's it. With a seating capacity of approximately 20 in such small quarters, the first thing you will wonder about is how come the space looks much bigger and wider and how it never feels crowded even when it is extremely busy.
Of course all of this has much to do with the way the space is designed and how much thought has in fact went into planning it: from the sketches on the walls to the hanging light bulbs to the copper shelving above the beautiful La Marzocco coffee machine. Or it is the colours. It must be the perfectly and impeccably coordinated combination and balance of natural and cream colours incorporated with pastel tones of blue and green. And the crates. I am sure, like most of us, you must be bored of the careless and exaggerated overuse of milk crates in almost every café in Melbourne; be it as seating, shelving, storage or something else.
Yet, be cautious before you generalise and judge Twenty and Six as the crates here are not ordinary ones - they are in fact beautifully arranged, designer style crates that are just "right".
If you are the least like me, at Twenty and Six, you too run the risk of forgetting about coffee or food, being so preoccupied with trying to take in all the little details of the décor and the design elements, just like I am doing as I am reiterating my experience now.
There is too little to say about the coffee as there is much more to enjoy and experience. They use Proud Mary beans on a La Marzocco machine which is skilfully mastered by the barista to achieve excellent results, whether you take your coffee black or with milk. Also on offer are the coffee of the day and an extensive tea selection.
As for the food, get ready for something a little out of the ordinary for you will not be met with a thick menu resembling an encyclopaedia as the case is in most breakfast places now. On the contrary the menu here is "to the point" but despite the slenderness of the menu, the choices that you do have are well-thought, well-planned, well-cooked, well-plated and, most important of all, well-eaten. Although I must warn you in advance, do not look at the photos of the food and read reviews, as you will discover, like I have, that their menu is seasonal and you may not find that mouth-watering dish which you saw in someone's blog.
This is exactly the reason why I will not be giving any names or descriptions of the dishes, to avoid future disappointment. I will only say this - if you want food that has been prepared with care and love, this is the right place.
Give Twenty and Six a try, not just because it is there, or Auction Rooms is too full but because it will offer you much more. After all who can resist the right combination of good coffee, interior design and thoughtful food?