While attending the World Barista Championships at the Show Grounds in Melbourne this year, I had the great pleasure of hanging out at Mama Bear, which has now become my “must visit” when I’m wanting a good coffee (Gridlock Coffee), good meal and friendly service.
Ok, yes! It does have the usual style of a trendy, cool Melbourne café. Located in an old warehouse that the owners Daniel Katz and Ash Dehartman have taken due care and attention to convert into an effective open space, the interior design beautifully retains the industrial feel. Warmth is carried from exposed light globes hanging from the ceiling, big timber beams and raw brick walls. Outside also doesn’t fail to disappoint; a local graffiti artist was employed to tag the exterior with colourful street art in keeping with the café.
BUT those qualities are just where they win the battle of getting you through the door; where they win the war is with their open, friendly service. While Daniel and Ash entice you in with their charm, their head waitress, Emma, effortlessly gives that extra 10%, whether it be a smile, a few extra moments of her time when obviously busy, or the offer to arrange a taxi for departure.
Another integral player is the Chef, Mark Wallan, who offers something that no one else wants to offer me – an all day menu! I’m over 18! I should be allowed the choice to have steak and eggs for breakfast and their own Miss Benedict (a take on eggs benedict) for lunch. On the subject of food, I was impressed by the selection of original takes on famous recipes, but most importantly, tasty, fresh and simple food – not always as easy as it sounds.
This is not the first venture for Daniel and Ash, having previously owned Café Cibo in Melbourne’s CBD. However in this, their flagship venture, they have flexed all their brains and brawn to create a fantastic café they can be incredibly proud of.
526 Racecourse Road, Flemington, VIC 3031. Phone. (03) 9376 0386