As a city-dweller, I watched with mixed curiosity and sentimentality as St Kevins Arcade underwent refurbishment during the past few months. Locals feared gentrification, and it's happened to some degree. But housed at the end of the arcade, in the space that was Alleluya's for 20 years, a bit of the old spirit remains, in the form of Bestie. Very vintage peach and forest green walls are a welcome contrast from the now clean, monochromatic arcade; a sweet little bonsai collection occupies a windowsill. Original features such as leadlight windows have been lovingly preserved. And the seating area is still the glorious suntrap it always was, overlooking Myers Park.
SUSTENANCE & SWILL
Ravenous after our hike up Queen St, we ordered quickly from Bestie's small but interesting menu. My husband tackled the vanilla and cinnamon muesli, which was nutty and crunchy and topped with seasonal fruit (tamarillos, plums, pears) plus a dollop of creamy coconut yoghurt. I opted for the creamed butter beans with fried egg, bacon and sourdough. While the portions felt a little on the small side - for $16.50 I'd expected two eggs and perhaps a bit more toast - it was a well-thought-out dish, with the egg fried in chilli butter, streaky bacon and copious amounts of well-spiced butterbean puree. Our trim and soy flat whites (Eighthirty) were glossy and smooth, just right.
We'd put some ricotta doughnuts with white chocolate whip on hold for afters. A warm, crisp, sugar-encrusted outside gave way to a light, soft and moist inside, and white chocolate whipped cream that was both light and impressively flavourful. The smaller portions of our mains were well made up for here, too - we couldn't finish the generous, golden platefuls.
SERVICE & OTHER STUFF
Both the owners, Tane Williams and Emma Lyell, were working the floor the day we visited, keeping a steady hand on the tiller. Service, although fairly do-it-yourself at the counter, was fast and friendly. The trip inside to order gave us a good chance to eye up the counter food, all of which looked tempting. Portion-size quibbles aside, the place is value for money, and that location - it's one of the most tranquil spots in the city to spend a lazy Saturday morning.