Just gone two years old, The Stables of Como cafe is happily ensconced in its pretty setting. More like a lavishly decorated country barn, the cafe occupies the former stables building of the historic Como House (corner of Williams Rd and Lechlade Avenue, South Yarra), surrounded by the property's bounteous garden. It is an odd location, somewhere between the guts of South Yarra, Toorak Village and the river, and you walk up a random leaf-lined driveway to get there. But once you find it, this cafe becomes your secret: a venue for brunch that you won't really want to share, so relaxing and pretty it is - almost like an unexpected piece of the country within urban Melbourne.
The theme here is farmhouse green and white (I get lots of Anne of Green Gables references, myself). The building itself is shackled in white corrugated iron, with a clear awning over the side strip of astro turf, lined with giant pot plants: an area where patrons can choose to eat 'outdoors', but undercover.
|Seriously giant pot plants|
Alternatively, you might snag one of the chunky wooden, shabby-chic tables indoors, under the white-painted, wooden board ceiling. The main counter's wooden panels are painted a soft green. Here is where you will find the dark green coffee machine extracting Allpress beans, and further down, a fetching display of country-style treats: cakes, confectionery, pastries, flowers. Ferny pot plants by the door add further splashes of green to the light, airy space. It really is nicest in summer time, but it's still pretty no matter what time of year you visit.
A third option for patrons is to pre-purchase some picnic goodies to be delivered to you at a spot of your choosing in the gardens (rugs provided). This must be booked online and can be postponed due to inclement weather.
Needless to say, this place is popular with families and pet-owners - whether that is an attraction or turn-off, you decide! Patrons tend to be what you'd expect in the inner south-east: ladies in puffer vests and designer leggings with their poodle in tow, well-heeled gents in jeans and open-necked shirts, groups ranging from hungover twenty-somethings, to girly Kitchen Teas, to young families brunching with the grandparents in tow.
|View from outdoor table towards Como House|
Seasonal events seem to be regularly catered for - for example, currently being advertised are a Father's Day lunch and a Melbourne Cup event. When a special event is taking place, further space outside the cafe is utilised if necessary, with extra outdoor tables and umbrellas. The cafe can also be booked for private events and presumably would be popular for weddings.
|Poached eggs, mushrooms, multigrain toast|
The food is just as pretty and country-style as you would expect. Eggs come from the onsite chickens, and produce from the onsite garden is used as much as possible. There are pastries, chunky sandwiches, quiche... Even breakfast Bellinis, for those inclined! (The cafe is fully licensed.) I have mainly been there for brunch, and my go-to dish is the avocado on toast with thyme mushrooms and a poached egg - sounds simple, but this one is usually laced with tiny slices of chilli and leafy herbs.
|Smashed avocado, feta, poached egg, multigrain toast|
|Rumbled eggs with bacon and mushrooms|
|Smashed avocado, mushrooms and feta on toast|
|Hangover beverages - yes, OJ in a jar|
The Stables are another notch in the belt for the Icke and Igby group, also responsible (originally) for such classy breakfast venues as Friends Of Mine (Richmond) and Porgie and Mr Jones (Hawthorn). The Stables of Como are open seven days for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea (picnics and events by arrangement).
|Cute crafty bill holder|