If you’re reading this, you probably suffer from that very specific strand of Melbourne paranoia that manifests itself in the complete inability to walk down a street without twitchily checking out every sidestreet and alleyway as if the Feds are after you. The thing is, for Melburnians, the willingness to venture down every dumpster town of a laneway has become a necessary life skill.
Case in point: slip down Union St, dodging the vaguely posh generica of Glenferrie Road in Malvern, and you’ll find Willim.
Willim’s all small and mellow, with a pared-back, sexy Scandy fit-out, a tangle of bare bulbs glowing gold, vintage wooden speakers mounted on the walls and hints of industria in the metal stools at the front bar. You want a sweet spot to sink into for a caffeine hit? You got it.
Speaking of, the Five Senses coffee here is like a good conversation – it doesn’t bang on at you, it doesn’t hit you over the head with its half-baked opinions. It’s easy, subtle, but with a hidden depth that catches you off-guard – like a bogan reading Bukowski. And the lattes are rich and full-bodied, holding their own, not the anaemic little weaklings you see all too often. (CCD coffee is on its way at Willim too.)
Food-wise, the menu is a compact hit of café classics heavy on organics. You’ve got all-day breakfasts of bircher with organic yogurt, almonds and poached pears, or the Big Willim (eggs on Dench sourdough with smashed avocado, tomato and Istra ham off the bone), or you can cherrypick your favourite open melt from the glass cabinet. They sit there, all piled high and shiny like jewels, daring you to choose. And then there’s the banana bread. Made by one of the owners (Gerrick, who named the café after his granddad), it’s something else. Truly.
There’s a liquor license and tapas menu on the cards – perfect for parking it at the stretched-out timber table on the footpath to drink in the sunset and the sauv blanc among the long shadows – but there’s no need to wait to go to Willim.