Two Bob, Fitzroy North
There are a few golden rules that I believe any new cafe owner should follow when it comes to naming their cafe;
1) Never name your cafe after its street name and/or number (eg. Cafe on Lonsdale, Cafe 133, or 214 Glenferrie Road Hawthorn VIC 3122 Cafe),
2) If it is set in a historic building, never name it after its original function (eg. The Old Firestation Cafe, Stamps (if in an old post office)),
3) No zany spelling of words. This includes, but is not limited to, replacing ‘s’ with ‘z’. (eg. Puss in Bootz Cafe). Limit the zaniness to your spare time, which I imagine involves wearing a risque Mambo t-shirt with the dog farting a musical note,
4) If you wrote your business plan in Comic Sans MS and you acted upon the advice dispensed by that fucking paperclip, I highly doubt you have what it takes to name and run a successful cafe,
5) Don’t EVER name it after the business owner/s or their family (eg. Carol’s Cafe, Two Fat Ladies, Peter and Michael Johnson’s Sensibly Priced and Neatly Presented Cafe).
So you can understand my trepidation when I heard this place was called Two Bob. I automatically thought, “Oh Jesus if this place is owned by two people called Bob then I’m going to boycott this place and slide an anonymous note made from newspaper clippings under the door like the stalker in The Bodyguard”. But it turns out it is just an old bank, hence the name. Even though it technically breaks rule number 2, I can dig it because it’s pretty subtle.
There is no doubt, this place is visually stunning. It has been tastefully designed with Scandinavian-inspired finishes (probably) and is really a pleasure to look at. But you try telling that to my sensitive sweat glands. I have never been so hot and sweaty in my entire life. Just to let you know, I ordered 3 apple juices during my meal.
Granted, the temperature was on its way to mid-30′s outside and it had been high-30′s the day before. But Jesus H Christ Jnr it was stuffy inside. They had 2 Aldi-esque air conditioners in the place and they both pointed directly down into the kitchen.
Now I’m sorry but if you take a job in a kitchen then you pretty much know going in that it is one of the hottest professions around – along with any job you see on a VB ad. So you get no sympathy from me if it is hot in there.
And even if they were pointed to the main part of the cafe, what exactly do you think two little air conditioners are going to do to keep a cafe of this size cool? It would be cheaper and more effective to hire some small local children to stand next to your customers and blow on them.
To be fair though, we did go there on a really hot day and it is an old bank. Banks were designed to be hot and stuffy so that robbers in balaclavas would suffocate and die from heat exhaustion if they ever went in there. Look it up on Encarta 95 if you don’t believe me.
My dining partner Eric the Discerning Llama with 90′s Hair was in his element in this heat. He gave a little wry smile every time I wiped my forehead with every napkin I could get hold of and was just generally being a jerk. He even ordered a hot chocolate (despite hating them) and placed it slightly closer to me so that the steam would drift into my increasingly wet face. Then he came up with this pearler:
Yeah nice one you pompous dickhead. I honestly don’t know why I eat with him sometimes.
Now to the food. I have only eaten one thing here, namely the Spanish-style Omelette with chorizo, truss tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella. This was really, really delicious and even filled me up. And my sweat provided just the right amount of salt to bring the dish to another level.
If I hadn’t already been eating like shit that weekend I DEFINITELY would’ve ordered the following menu item: Brioche French Toast with grilled banana, honeycomb, salted caramel and marscapone. If I were to marry a breakfast item (and I pray to god the legislation will be passed someday) it would probably be the scrambled eggs I make myself every morning: uninspiring but dependable. But if I were to take a breakfast item on a dirty weekend away down the coast, it would definitely be this little french toast number. We would stay in bed all weekend, only surfacing to fetch ice buckets and check our twitter feeds.
Eric had a particularly voracious appetite on this hot February morning, and so he ordered quite a few dishes. Unfortunately, even though Eric enjoys all the meats of our cultural stew and likes to think of himself as quite the refined gent, he is still a llama and therefore still eats like an animal. So I didn’t have time to take photos of the meals. But I can tell you that he did order the “Crumbed poached eggs with grilled asparagus, smoked salmon, toasted pinenuts and toasted sourdough” and was suitably impressed.
He also ordered the “muesli with raspberry yoghurt, fresh fruit, multigrain toast, and avocado and feta”. He also posited that people only order muesli because they think it’s healthy, like eating at Subway. But it’s actually not. I don’t know how a creature that grew up on grass and tree shoots thinks he is any authority on diets but I was too hot to argue and he was in one of those moods.
Overall, the food and the aesthetics of Two Bob is great. Can’t fault them. But my god man, THE HEAT. I remember eating at this place on a mild day last year just after it opened and it was still stuffy then. So I would definitely go back there if they did 2 things: 1) they bought 10 more air conditioners and 2) they hang a light-hearted poster on the wall from the 80′s of a penguin wearing sunglasses and saying “Keep your cool, dudes”. I think these additions could transform the place.