11 Anderson St, Yarraville. Phone: 9687 6663
Perhaps it’s a sign that we’re putting down significant roots – that we have vivid recall of previous incarnations of premises inhabited by flash new businesses.
Certainly, both Bennie and I spent a goodly amount of time having our heads shorn – and, in my case, face shaved – in the old-school barber shop that previously filled 11 Anderson St.
After a long innings, he closed up shop quite a while ago.
He was part of what is a disappearing breed, often of Mediterranean or European extraction and usually cheap as chips. Well, compared to, ahem, hairdressers anyway.
We love them. We “collect” them. We may even start a blog on them in due course.
Anyway, being the nosy locals we are, we followed with interest the subsequent renovation. We had some idea what to expect, with Keith from Heather Dell telling us early in the piece that a wine bar of some sort was on the way.
And so it is. There’s wine, but not a whole lot of it. There’s deli produce and high-quality pastas, anchovies and other grocery items, but not a whole lot of them, either. There’s wholemeal baguettes for lunch at about the $7-8 mark, but virtually nothing else ‘cept antipasto options. There’s only toast for breakfast, very good coffee and less than a handful of sweeties such as baklava.
So what exactly is Barkley Johnson, and where does it figure to fit in the busy neighbourhood of Anderson and Ballarat streets?
The lovely staff tell me they’ve got to do the best and most they can with the space available.
I ask why I would make an extra stop for their deli items when I could cover them while at IGA across the road – or the new place being fitted out as we converse.
They reply in terms of quality, price and personal service.
I reckon they have a point, especially on the service angle.
As we sit at stools at the front window, with the early spring sunshine streaming in, Bennie and I feel like we’ve found a new favourite place in Yarraville to hang for a while and watch the world go by.
Despite space limitations, Barkley Johnson has nice vibe. There’s a smallish courtyard out back, a few more stools just inside the door to it and the handful of stools we’re hogging up front.
Bennie’s been a bit crook, so can’t even be tempted to have a hot chocolate, making do with a light, fluffy yoyo of, we are informed, Greek derivation – hard choccy top, sponge-like halves and creamy centre. It’s yummo and he digs it.
I have a similarly sized-and excellent coconut macaron with almond slivers.
Both sweeties and thoroughly superb coffee set back $8.
The previous week I’d had one of the filled baguette portions – ham, cheese, pickles. It was good, but the lovely wholemeal bread was of such robust flavour that the other ingredients struggled to make themselves known.
Nevertheless, on the basis of two very fine coffees, some sweeties an a couple of visits, we feel at home here.
Becoming regulars seems to likely to be both pleasurable and profitable.