ST. ALi Family | Abacus
383 Chapel Street, South Yarra, (03) 9824 1026
Mon & Tue 7am – 4pm
Wed to Fri 7 am – 11 pm
Sat & Sun 8am – 11pm
From an old Westpac bank to an urban oasis, Chapel Street’s aptly named Abacus is an all-day retreat. Its menu is considered and features local and seasonal produce with rather unusual ingredients and nuances of native Australian flavours.
On the Winter Days menu, you’ll find exquisite dishes such as the Braised Octopus Tentacle with Adelaide Hills dry aged chorizo, or the White Coconut Chia Pudding with house-fermented yoghurt, chocolate fondant and roasted macadamia.
“We smoke and cure all our own meats and bake our own sourdough,” says Dylan Whitmore who essentially grew up in a cafe owned and run by his mum in the hills of Valla Beach, northern New South Wales.
The light-drenched interior with high ceilings, crawling vines, sub-tropical plants and rattan furniture speaks to Whitemore’s hometown. So too does the soundtrack as Xavier Rudd’s, ‘Come Let Go’, plays blissfully in the background.
There’s a wood-fired pizza oven on site, which up until recently, facilitated the cafe/restaurant’s own bakery. Due to popular demand though, it had to find a new home at Clarendon Street operating wholesale as well under the name, The South Melbourne bakery.
The Winter Night menu features delicate dishes such as the White Anchovy with lemon myrtle, heritage tomatoes & crout, and the South Australian Kangaroo Tartare with capers and saltbush.
The menu relies on the best local produce available, which in the case of the current special with pine mushrooms and charcoal sourdough, the chefs visited Daylesford to hand-select the ingredients themselves.
“We also have access to a farm owned by one of our chefs, and I’d say 50% of the menu’s produce is sourced from the property,” says Whitmore.
Abacus seats 110 people inside and twenty outside and its proximity to the Prahran Market attracts a varied audience from tourists to locals, young and old.