Honey & Coco, 42B Hall St, Newport. Phone: 9399 4493
It’s the neighbourhood immediately surrounding Newport train station that saw me renounce the use of public transport for my quasi-daily commute to Geelong.
Especially during the colder – and darker – months, the station and nearby shopping strips were grim, bleak and even occasionally forbidding and threatening.
In a more relaxed space on a sunny mid-week mid-day, the vibe is quite a bit more welcoming.
Not that this appears even now as a foodie destination.
There’s a range of traders doing most things most locals probably need, but it’s hard to conjure up more enthusiasm than that.
Perhaps the Thai restaurant? Prices pretty steep by our standards, but I have a hunch it’ll be a good one when – not if – we finally visit.
There’s two cafes of the urban chic variety – one either side of the tracks.
But the prices in one scare me a bit when I am only seeking a cheap and cheerful lunch.
And the other has a dauntingly high baby/toddler head count whenever I’m in the vicinity.
Which is how I find myself settling into Honey & Coco.
It has a slightly more utilitarian feel than its two immediate competitors, but it smells good, and the deal is sealed when I spy something on the menu that I find I want and didn’t even realise it.
The enticing aroma, I suspect, is emanating from the day’s soup special, vegetable, which the majority of customers are enjoying.
There’s a smallish range of filled Turkish loaves that look pretty good, while the muffins, cupcakes and so on seem standard.
But I go for the Greek salad.
It’s available with various protein additions at a price, but I keep it plain and simple, seeking a light, healthy, crunchy lunchy.
Surprisingly for lunch-on-the run cafe-type places of any stripe, my salad is made to order and from scratch.
It’s thus super dooper fresh – the cos lettuce is especially toothsome.
If there are things about it I’d prefer to be otherwise – plain olive oil instead of a balsamic dressing of some kind that stains the fetta cheese brown, the cheese itself too highly crumbled, kalamata olives I’d rather the stones were still in, the ’70s-’80s rock music – I’m prepared to write them off as personal preferences.
And at $10 with two segments of Turkish bread, it’s a good price for a big serve.
I’m happy with my lunch.
My cafe latte is even better – very good, in fact.
Honey & Coco has a down-to-earth warmth and welcome that has obviously earned the loyalty of the regulars who come and go as I enjoy my time there.