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.