A faded old milk bar has been given a hip minimal upgrade and now serves stuffed bagels from 7am and fat sandwiches from 10am. And the coffee is pretty damn good too.
Location: 226 Auburn Road, Hawthorn, VIC 3122 Ph: (03) 9994 8275
Whiplash Cafe is a beacon of red and white coolness sat on a quiet corner in Hawthorn.
Prior to its change of ownership, the spot was a tired old milk bar which had definitely seen better days.
Enter Jordan Faulkner – a guy with plenty of hospitality experience and a desire to run his own place – and Jordan Roughead – a coffee loving ex AFL player. Before long, the once grotty milk bar was snapped up, revamped and given a new lease of life as a hip sandwich and coffee joint.
For more of the Best Sandwiches in Melbourne – And yes. Whiplash Cafe makes the cut – read our post.
We’re back in the soothing world of whitewashed walls and uncluttered, minimal cool.
The wood-clad front counter separates the staff from the customers with the main feature being a Melbourne-regulation size, large coffee machine. There’s an old style board hung on the back wall detailing food and drink options.
If you want to dine in, there’s a high communal table for those who wish to stand and a few lower tables for the sitters.
The outside of the cafe has a striking red and white livery. This, combined with the curved edges of the building, gives the whole place a charming retro vibe. It reminds me of the American diners from the popular US sit coms of my childhood.
The atmosphere is relaxed and much trendier than you usually find in suburban Hawthorn. But then that’s kind of the point.
For more bagels in a trendy cafe, see our review of Mile End Bagels
Sandwiches. In 2 main forms.
The kitchen knocks out bagels all day. Hallelujah!
Of course, the team at Whiplash Cafe make versions of the classics. Their Salmon has NY-style Lox written all over it – with House Whipped Cream Cheese, Smoked Salmon, Pickled Red Onion & Lilliput Capers. Similarly, the Reuben contains all the usual suspects – Pastrami, Sauerkraut, Russian Dressing, Pickles & Swiss Cheese.
However, there are also a few more unique combos. The Turkey BLT – Shaved Turkey, Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato, Russian Dressing & Aioli – sounds pretty tempting. And if you fancy breakfast on the run, the Egg & Bacon with its Fried Egg Bacon, Cheddar Sauce, Aioli & Cos Lettuce should see you right.
Then, from 10am a handful of carefully considered sandwiches pad out the menu.
There’s a rather excellent Chicken Burger. The Chicken Thighs used in the filling get the Deep Southern treatment and are marinaded in buttermilk to ensure their juiciness. There’s also a wallop of heat from a dollop of Harissa Mayo. Inspired.
The hit list of great accompaniments continues with the Porchetta sandwich, which comes with the House Green Sauce and Green Tomato Pickle.
Take your tired old lunchtime favourite up a notch with the Breville Sandwich/Panini Press & Toastie Maker
And for the veggie lovers, there’s a soft wedge of Eggplant paired with Vodka Sauce, fresh Mozzarella and more of that special Green Sauce. It’s substantial and totally delicious.
Lawson’s Bagels up the road also do a great sandwich. Find out more here.
For the cold drink fans there’s a selection of ‘softies’, as well as OJ and AJ.
In addition, Whiplash Cafe shows its hipster credentials with Yumbo Lemonade. This small-batch Yarra Valley tipple is made from hand-peeled lemons. Say no more.
And then there’s the coffee.
My flat white was strong and rich with a great mouth-feel. Perfect for washing down a Pastrami Bagel.
Keen to try the Best Coffee Shops in Melbourne? Check out our favs.
On their website, Whiplash Cafe promise ‘North-side cafe cool in the East’.
How cool do they reckon they are? Well, hip enough to sell their own merchandise! (See their website if you’re interested).
Certainly, the vibe and menu is more Brunswick or Fitzroy than formerly staid Hawthorn. But then things are changing in the East and places like this definitely have their followers.
If you want a great bagel or focaccia, fat with tasty fillings and some superb house-made sauces, then this is the renovated milk bar for you.