Just The Way You Are
Words by Jerome Lebel-Jones
Pictures by Guy Lavoipierre
In the days of yore, Carlisle Street was a neighborhood shopping strip with all the usual suspects: butchers, bakers, delis, green grocers and even a hardware store. A decent cafe however, was not something Carlisle St had going for it. How times have changed since Wall 280 opened in 1998. Now the street is thick with cafes and quite a few of them are excellent, including Monk Bodhi Dharma, Las Chicas, Midali, Wall 280 and Batch.
Batch is my local. During the six or so years that it’s been open, I’ve visited more days than not, thanks to the fact that it’s a short stroll from my home but more importantly beacuse the coffee is quite frankly awesome.
Recently, owner Jason Chan shared one of his coffee making secrets with me. Get ready, this is going to change your life. He froths the milk as the same time as the coffee is extracting. Sounds really obvious but from what I can tell it makes a difference. The shot of espresso doesn’t go cold and the milk doesn’t settle, but not many people seem to do it this way. Coffee making technique aside, what makes Batch special is its consistency. Doesn’t sound glamourous but I think it’s a big deal. I don’t want my local to be amazing some days only to be let down others. By my reckoning, over the course of the six years that Batch has been open, I’ve had 1248 coffees; a robust sample size by anyone’s measure. And of those not a single bad one. In fact there’s not been a coffee that was anything short of excellent. As I said, I think that’s a big deal.
Batch is no one trick pony. No sir, the food and booze are also excellent. A personal favourite is the potato hash, a fry up of potato, onion, spinach and cornichon with a poached egg on the top. As with all the food at Batch, the serves are huge so there’s enough carbs in this thing to power you through a day’s manual labour or a footy game with some extra time thrown in. Or in my case it’s just the thing to sustain me through an arduous late morning nap on the couch.
The real surprise here is the booze list. It’s clear owner Jason Chan really knows his stuff. Less of a surprise when you hear that he has won countless prestigious awards for his mad bartending skills, most notably for his cocktails. I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never sampled one of his concoctions, but then again I typically pop in around 7.30am and the days of me punching one down on the way to work are long gone. Once I get to work however, all bets are off.
I can vouch for the wine and beer. Batch is the only place I know that stocks one of my favourite beers, Epic Pale Ale from New Zealand. If you get the chance, try one. It will blow your mind. And quite possibly your budget too. As for the wine list, it’s an exercise in delicious concision. A small roster of wonderful things, predominantly Kiwi. If you’re a fan of Pinot from Australia’s biggest island, you should pay Batch a visit.
So there you have it; Batch is consistently awesome. Great coffee, food and booze. What more could you want from your local?
Pictures by Guy Lavoipierre
Originally published 19 October, 2010
Shop 1, 320 Carlisle St
Balaclava, Victoria 3186
T. 03 9530 3550