Yeshe Dawa, aka The Midnight Baker, has recently expanded beyond baking bread out of the back of someone else's cafe, opening her own space on Dominion Rd. The small spot along Dominion Rd where Vinyl used to be is her new home and the place feels light and airy. The vibe is very Melbourne, with brown glass bottles holding single stems of leafy greens on each table and exposed bricks peeking through the white paint on one wall. Through the doorway at the back of the cafe, hidden from view, are the big ovens Dawa now has all to herself to bake her bread on site. We grab a park outside on the main road easily - but to be fair, it is 8am on a Wednesday morning. Good luck finding something so close on the weekend.
SUSTENANCE & SWILL
The star of the Midnight Baker is the freedom loaf, a wheat, gluten, dairy, egg, refined sugar, yeast and nut-free bread. Thin slices are served topped with your choice of savoury or sweet. Although I'm tempted by the roasted spiced pear with date caramel and vanilla "Nice cream" ($13), I opt instead for savoury, choosing basil pesto with roasted vine tomatoes, cashew cheese and hazelnut dukkah ($8.50). The pesto is rich and nicely balanced by the sweetness of the tomatoes; I recommend adding a poached egg as well. Despite being free of so many ingredients, the loaf isn't dry, and serves as a good base for its toppings. My friend orders smashed edamame beans and avocado with lemon and sauerkraut ($8.50). I get jealous. Just when you thought smashed avo had been done to death, a twist like this is added and it's interesting all over again. The salty savouryness of the edemame goes perfectly with the avocado and I wish I could have eaten more than the few bites my friend generously allowed me. Also ordered is a red velvet latte ($5.50), a sort of healthy hot chocolate which, like its name, is beetroot-red and creamy. Only one problem - turns out it's caffeine-free, so I follow up with a long black.
Service is fast and friendly and so are our orders - again though this was early on a weekday, so it would be reasonable to expect things to take a little longer than five minutes if you come in on a Saturday for brunch. The Freedom loaf is deceptively filling and for the price on offer its great value for money too.
A perfect little hole in the wall to start the day in.