A day of unhealthy eating on Johnston St: Bomb, Ilk Bar, Kooshi

Yesterday my curiosity about this place prompted me to detour from my otherwise rigidly fixed route to work on my bike, in my suit. It doesn’t exactly leap out at you when driving past as the missing breakfastry of Abbotsford, and even after peering through this window last Sunday when it was closed, its true nature did not reveal itself, but Bomb Cafe & Bar, as I have discovered it is known (229 Johnston St, not far from the corner of Hoddle St, 9486 0699) is a great spot. Like so many long thin places on Johnston St, a small front section gives onto a middle room and then a magnificent back yard graced by a large peppercorn tree. The hot breakfast menu looked promising, the people behind the coffee machines engaging, but I had a pastry with custard and raspberries with my coffee. Steak, red wine, and salad followed by cheese and walnuts at Vue de Monde didn’t really help at lunch.

Nor did beers after work at Ilk Bar. A trip to Jim’s Greek Tavern did not eventuate when we discovered that pizza could be ordered and delivered to the skanky back courtyard where we were enjoying the unseasonably warm evening. Undoubtedly the other option, the local Thai restaurant, would have been better, because Fresca’s pizzas aren’t up to much, particularly when compared with their substantial cost.

I turned up at Ilk Bar at 6 p.m., definitely not a cool thing to do, and it did not start filling up until about 9. They don’t take plastic. One of the three owners is a florist. There was a most retro flower arrangement sitting on the bar. I said I wanted a beer. The man started reeling off the choices. Helpfully, I asked whether the beers that were available might be the ones displayed behind him. Somewhat hesitantly, he said, yes, except for the Asahi. I asked for a Peroni. It was hot and bright outside, but dim dim dim inside. He got out his little torch and peered into the depths of the fridges for a while. I said I would have a Coopers. He told me that Ilk Bar had changed hands amongst friends. It was not quite what I expected. I had only poked my head in before, but the bling had definitely been there. There were film nights. Now there are plans to revive the film nights. Maybe this is a good thing, maybe a bad thing. At least you can hear yourself speak now. Apparently a lot of people have parties there.

After a few hours of listening to music like popped up gymnopedies and drinking Coopers we wandered along Johnston St, ending up at Kooshi where we sat in the front window, though we could have sat in the middle or back room, or in the long thin back yard which is a pleasant place to have breakfast on the weekend. It’s a diverse and good place, the third long thin Johnston St establishment with an inviting back yard I visited yesterday, equally at home serving breakfasts, doing dinners off a small menu (I had a great meal there last time) and being a bar late at night.

We passed the Bendigo Hotel and in the interests of investigative journalism, I poked my head in. There were lots of Greeks, and Greek music up on the stage. It is a phenomenon every Friday night. It was quite a surprise.

8 Replies to “A day of unhealthy eating on Johnston St: Bomb, Ilk Bar, Kooshi”

  1. Thanks for the tips on Johnston St Eats – even though I live close by, it’s unexplored territory for me. I think there’s too many pubs between here and there. Anyway, I found it very hard to read beyond pastry with custard and raspberries….mmm…..

  2. when last i visited, the chap behind the bar at ilk spoke using no plurals whatsoever.

    “thank”, he said, when i gave him the money for the beer.

  3. This reminds me of a Texan I met in the absolute boondocks of Mali. She learned French out of a book. She refused to conjugate verbs: said it wasn’t necessary for comprehension (e.g. I to go to market. You to want to come tomorrow?) so she would say “Je aller au marche. Tu vouloir m’accompagner?” And all with a woeful accent. But she could communicate perfectly well. It was a phenomenal piece of lateral thinking.

  4. Being a local I had often passed by Bomb on my way to work and thought I’ll have to check that place out sometime. This article prompted me to do just so and I am sad to say that I was mightily disappointed!!

    The coffee was actually quite good, but that’s where our positive experience of this cafe ended!! The service was lackluster to begin with, 3 staff couldn’t manage to get 2 coffee’s to us within half an hour of ordering, and upon departure my thankyou was straight out ignored!

    Despite the proximity and convenience of Bomb’s locale we shall not be back!!

    Good coffee but this place bomb’s out in the hospitality stakes!!

  5. Shame about Bella’s experience – I just randomly started dropping into the place about the same time as she wrote and just love it. Good coffee and just such nice people – and real freshness and value to the food. Nothing too picky or fancy but it’s just so simple and GOOD.

  6. The Bomb are so slow, but their ham, mayo, red onion etc baguette is to die for. I moved to Sydney and I still think about it!!!!

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