Skip to main content

South of Johnston (SoJo)

I've lived in East Melbourne for six months and I am a serial weekend bruncher. My housemate and I are fortunate to have some excellent cafes nearby, including Proud Mary, Three Bags Full, Grocery Bar, New York Tomato and recent Victoria Street addition, Little Big Sugar Salt. But one of my new favourites is South of Johnston (46 Oxford Street, Collingwood), more lovingly known as SoJo.



SoJo is actually quite a bit south of Johnston Street, not just south of it, as the name would suggest. In fact, the restaurant site is just south of Peel Street, but I guess SoPeel doesn't quite have the same ring to it. Or North of Langridge... NoLang?! Mmmmmyeahsoanyway...



Reasons I like SoJo

  • It's walking distance from my house. Extremely important when you're a caffeine addict and have no car. 
  • It's spacious, so although it gets quite busy, you never have to wait too long for a table. (Plus, my housemate has a magic touch when it comes to waiting times: never exceeding 15 minutes! I know, right! Lucky, lucky.) 
  • There are private nooks, communal tables, and (undercover) outdoor areas. 
  • The venue is a converted warehouse, so it feels airy and light, even on dark days. 

  • It has the oddest mix of design features I've ever seen. There are massive stripey beach umbrellas perched upside-down over the main counter; pastel-coloured, country-style furniture and antique knick-knacks alongside clean lines and dark, modern colours; comfy lounge chairs and tidy booths; plates as wall decorations, funky lighting, and a large Sydney Harbour Bridge replica at one end. (So clearly there's no aversion here to Sydney like the rest of Melbourne seems to have.) I wasn't sure about it all at first, but now I think it works somehow. 


  • The staff are generally friendly and smiley. 
  • It's far enough away from Smith Street that you don't get annoying customers (i.e. clueless visitors to the area, chromers loitering outside) - just local dwellers and workers, mainly. 


  • It seems to be open on most public holidays! YAY. 
  • The food is seriously tasty, there's loads of choice, and they don't try too hard to be weird and clever - still interesting, but not wanky. 


  • The coffee is good, and they use real chocolatey sprinkles on top of cappuccinos.


  • You can hang out there for ages and no one minds. 
  • The soap in the bathrooms is niiiiiiiiice.
  • I really like the music played (on the whole). 



Things SoJo could do better

  • The coffee. It ain't bad, but I personally find Supreme rather bland, and maybe it's extracted too quickly or something, but it just doesn't have enough kick for me! I usually have to ask for a strong one, or just end up getting two. Also, they serve it on the cooler side of warm here. Maybe time to step it up a bit, guys?! 
  • It's such a big space that sometimes I feel cold. Sad face. 
  • Apparently there's a doggie around, and I HAVEN'T MET HIM YET. 
  • That's all. 





Update: 4 January 2014

I have met the doggie now! He's kinda bulldog-fierce looking, but pretty chilled out. Although he didn't much like our puppy (that we were minding) encroaching on his space. He hangs out in a corner of the little courtyard which opens onto the street. I didn't take a photo of the dog, but I did take another one of the coffee. Sorry.





South of Johnston Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Popular posts from this blog

Spice Temple

Spice Temple  Neil Perry's Fine Dining Chinese Restaurant at Crown, Southbank, Melbourne
It's considered an institution in Melbourne, and with a chef to its name like Neil Perry, a location like Southbank, and an existence of six years in the Melbourne restaurant scene (when staying power is notoriously elusive), it's no wonder. Spice Temple's name is a pretty accurate description of the restaurant: food heavy in spices and spiciness; a dim space with a sort of hushed reverence.



The quiet tone of Spice Temple (Shop 7, Crown Complex, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank) could well be due to its design. With lots of dark wood and more traditional red and gold carpet, one might be forgiven for thinking it's a little dated. What keeps it current is the symmetrical and perpendicular fittings, creating neat squared-off eating nooks, and the dark, felt-like soundproofing material spaced out overhead, muffling any white noise.



Walking into the restaurant's reception area, yo…

Mr. Miyagi

It's the place that was made infamous by the 'chopsticks incident' last December, where a young Richmond Tigers AFL player drunkenly threatened to attack a woman dining nearby with his chopsticks. But of course, Mr. Miyagi had already developed a cult following well before that.



Opening in October 2013 on the ever-so-hip Windsor portion of Chapel Street, and tickling nostalgic fancies with its reference to 1984 classic The Karate Kid, the restaurant has enjoyed a steady stream of customers since. I remember stopping by with a friend one Thursday night mid last year to enquire about a table, and we were told it would be a two-hour wait. Well! Either this place is really good, I thought, or really good at hype.



I made a calculated plan with friends to score a table there on a Friday night recently. I rocked up nice and early, 6:45pm-ish, and put my name down for a table. They advised the wait would be approximately an hour, probably less, noted down my mobile number and enco…

Saint Crispin

When Smith Street had just become a local area for me, I used to walk past Cavallero and think about how I 'must try that place soon'. But as everyone knows, Smith Street (and surrounds) is not short of venues, and I must have been busy checking out all the others first, because before I knew it, Cavallero had closed and I had missed my chance. Apparently it had been struggling. Who then, would dare to take on the site, and what would they make of it? Smith Street is a prime location, but it's also full of competition. This would have to be good.



Enter Scott Pickett (Estelle Bistro) and Joe Grbac (The Press Club). Two chefs who used to work together at London's fancy-pants The Square (which boasts not one, but two Michelin stars), they joined forces to open a brand new venue as both business partners and co-head chefs. The result: Saint Crispin (300 Smith Street, Collingwood).

Named for the patron saint of shoemakers, Saint Crispin acknowledges its site's origins a…