Touchwood, it's that good.
Address: 480 Bridge Road, Richmond, Vic
Phone: (03) 9429 9347
Open: Weekdays 7am until 4pm
Weekends 7:30am until 4:30pm
Those considering where to open a café generally put Bridge Road, Richmond, in the too hard basket. It’s a little bit less sophisticated than the Southside, and not nearly as cool as further north. If anything, the strip is a touch dejected when it comes to Melbourne’s incredibly high brunch standards. That is, until now.
A few good men have taken on the challenge with a new café called Touchwood. Between them, they’re also responsible for old café favourites Coin Laundry, Station Street Trading Co., Tall Timber and Pillar of Salt. In other words, they know what works.
Touchwood glows thanks to its clean, simple interior. White walls surround a pleasantly unrefined timber counter and polished concrete floors. A scattering of flowers and vines snaking from ceiling beams add a much-needed lick of green, while the outdoor decking area will be the hot spot as the weather warms up.
Trend factor aside, the food is what makes Touchwood. It’s not surprising given the chef once worked at Ladro and Red Door Corner Store. Breakfast ranges from the healthy (morning grain salad with quinoa, freekeh, wild rice, rocket, toasted almonds, chai soaked raisins, cumin yoghurt and a poached egg) to the downright indulgent (peanut butter and jelly wholemeal waffles, poached raspberries, whipped peanut butter ricotta and peanut brittle). Favourites like avocado on toast raise the bar with additions such as beetroot relish and burnt lime. There’s even a kiddie menu for wee ones with wee appetites who still want to feel like adults.
I visited for lunch with The Hospitality Widow last week. We bought along high expectations and big appetites. It took a while to decide what to order, which is always a good sign. Eventually we landed on the po’boy and tacos. I wish I could have an endless supply of the fat, fried prawns in the po’boy, kind of like when the TimTam genie clicks his fingers and a never-ending packet of TimTams materialises in that ad. Flaky grilled rockling also featured, despite being a touch sparse. Lime aioli and purple cabbage slaw lined the baguette, which could have been softer.
Pulled pork tacos were more difficult to fault. Juicy shredded pork was mixed up with more purple cabbage, coriander, and slivers of fennel; all held together with thick applesauce. It dripped down my hand just the right amount, without causing the taco to disintegrate. Huge props. *Fist pump*
In the liquid department, coffee came courtesy of a custom black Synesso Hydra. If this bean machine were a transformer, it would morph into Bond’s trademark Aston Martin. Choose from the house blend, single origin, cold drip or pour over. Storm in a Teacup teas also grace the beverage list, as do Mörk hot chocolates (add 50 cents for peanut butter). The juices have the kind of vitality properties that could bring you back from the dead, and at $8 a pop, you’d bloody well want them to.
For those who feel empty after a meal if it’s not finished off by dessert (I feel your pain), head to the sweets display. Unsurprisingly the most decadent option caught my eye: a moist chocolate cupcake with chocolate ganache brownie and – just in case that wasn’t chocolaty enough – a chunk of chocolate brownie wedged on top. Chocolate. Chocolate. Chocolate.
Although Touchwood seats 120 hungry punters, it fills up fast during peak times. You’d almost think the name came from superstitious customers ‘touching wood’ in the hopes they nab a table upon arrival. Despite early reports of a few teething issues, this bright and airy café will have peeps lining up down Bridge Road for a while to come. Touchwood. It’s just that good.