A new level of dining- Melbourne's Higher Ground
As a Sydney-sider, I have been well acquainted with highly anticipated cafe openings, new coffee trends, queues-around-the-block kind of hype (Think The Grounds of Alexandria/City); but when I heard and saw the ruckus Higher Ground was creating amongst Melbournians, I immediately added it to my "must-visit" list.
It's unassuming from the street, maintaining its experienced industrial exterior that still shows some of its battle-scars from its previous life as a power station. There is a coffee cart perched out the front for those on the go or waiting for a seat- a smart and enticing idea. There's a mix of trendy youngsters dying to bombard Instagram with shots of the impressive 15-foot high ceiling dining space, with the usual suits on the go awaiting their Americano's and Mums and bubs that await patiently for their name to be called for their available table.
Upon stepping inside and finding my way to the long communal table, I understood the excessive hype and Instagram mania. It's a dining hall crafted with high ceilings and exposed bare brick bones, elegant industrial chic fittings and a certain magic in the way that the bustling 160 seater still maintained relaxed hushed tones. These guys had certainly mastered the art of creating a space that is so fluid and transformable without an ounce of pretention.
And coming from such a strong pedigree (its siblings are The Kettle Black and Top Paddock) there was no doubt that this dining concept was going to be a success. There are little chairs and tables, benches, nooks and communal table seating areas and even though this is mid-morning in the middle of the week the place is full.
The coffee is punching with robust earthiness, as I sip and start to resemble something more of a human than a white-walker. It is provided by Square One Coffee Roasters, their own roastery. Food isn't complicated and can easily be devoured as a light breakfast, or a grazing brunch that leads into lunch.
I can be a creature of comfort when it comes to ordering breakfast items, and this occasion was no different sticking with my Benedict eggs, dry-cured ham, Emmental, bearnaise, sourdough and vinegar powder. It's all the usual suspects done right and with a Higher Ground interpretation. The use of such high-quality ingredients with a bit of creative brings this old-fashioned into the modern day.
There were two other close contenders with the confit lamb sausage roll in all its flaky golden pastry glory served with cucumber pickle, garlic and anchovy mayonnaise. While the ricotta hotcake (note: singular hotcake) with maple syrup, seeds and grains, cream, seasonal fruit and flowers which gave me massive food envy as fellow diners received their work-of-art in a bowl.
By night the menu kicks off its heels and delivers a smooth seasonally styled array of dishes that capture the best of local produce from land and sea. There are continental influences that cannot be pin-pointed solely to one cuisine but rather an orchestrated jig-saw puzzle of ingredients that are meant to be plated together.
Higher Ground elevates Melbourne dining to a whole new level with its style of food, coffee and attitude and is worth the wait and visit, with bookings also available. This city has got an upcoming institute that will be waking up caffeine depreciated Melbournians for many years to come.
650 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne
Monday – Friday
7am – 4PM
Weekends & Public Holidays
8am – 4PM
Nights: Thursday – Saturday
Open till 11PM