Grigons & Orr, Melbourne
When I was a little girl, I loved my wendy house. It was a slightly wonky, red and yellow canvas construction that sat on our sloping lawn at Salty Towers. Nothing fancy, but shaded from the midsummer glare it was the perfect venue for sand-pie teas with my ragbag teddies, and the launch pad for many a Shock and Awe attack on frère Salty, armed with fistfuls of the frogs and toads that swarmed the garden each summer.
There were only two friends who could spark a bout of wendy house envy in me. The first was my pal Lucia, whose grandparents built her a bricks and mortar house - two-storeys, plus a mini kitchen with RUNNING WATER, in their garden. There are studio flats in London with less sq ft. Lucia is, 20-something years on, still one of my closest friends - so her early advances in real estate didn't drive too much of a wedge between us.
I'm ashamed to say I don't remember the name of the other playmate. But I do remember her wendy house. Actually, wendy Harrods would be more accurate. This little girl had a freakin' play shop in her garden. A capacious wooden hut, the front half of which was filled with wicker baskets, and the back half a counter with a hatch, and shelves that ran from floor to ceiling. The shelves were stocked with pretend packets of washing powder, plastic corn on the cobs, pencils and rubbers, and empty toothpaste boxes. It was like shopping in the 1950s but without the shillings or the rationbook.
Flash-forward to 2010. On the corner of a residential block in North Melbourne, I've found a grown up version. Grigons & Orr is now officially my favourite place on earth. Modelled on Australian milk bars of the 1950s, it's a blend of traditional corner store and hip cafe. Unfortunately, it's a rather inconvenient 10,496 miles away...
Behind a glass counter laiden with buttermilk scones under fly nets, are shelves filled with bottles of pop, toothpaste and washing powder, biscuits and baked beans. In a nifty styling trick vintage packets of each item are placed next to their modern-day equivalent.
Image from grigonsorr.com.au
If teleporting ever becomes a viable science, I would airlift Grigons & Orr to London immediately. Here's just 10 of the many, many reasons why:
1. The milk bottles filled with tap water for every table - scented with strawberries, mint and sweet basil.
3. Bircher muesli in sundae glasses, with layers of podgy blueberries and blackberries
4. The help-yourself fridge full of sodas, organic milk, free-range eggs, and pats of butter wrapped in greaseproof paper and tied with string. Built into a wall constructed from vintage milk crates.
5. Crisp slivers of prosciutto served with runny poached eggs and cornbread.
6. The rack of 1950s magazines
7. The crate of knitted blankets, for customers sitting outside - just in case it gets a bit nippy
8. Apple fritters with toasted hazelnuts, caramel sauce and mascarpone. Dusted with sugar. 'Nuff said.
9. Fillings for jaffles, a kind of Aussie toasted sandwich, are listed as 'choose your own adventure' on the menu.
10. Coke floats.
Grigons & Orr has a great website, featuring 'Granny Davis', where you can drool over the full brunch menu:
Grigons & Orr, 445 Queensberry St, North Melbourne, Victoria, Australia 3051