Milkboy on Fordham's
116 Fordham Ave, Camberwell, VIC
03 9041 0822
On an unassuming strip of shops in Middle Camberwell sits Milkboy on Fordham’s, a colourful cafe where specialty coffee is king and brunch fare its rightful queen.
The family friendly joint is the latest occupant of Melbourne’s oldest standing milk bar, built in 1915 and transformed to cult cafe by Shannon Smith in 2010. After decades of hospitality experience – including stints at the Queen Victoria Market, a gig managing his cousins’ bar on Brunswick Street and years navigating friends’ cafes all over Melbourne – Shannon learnt a thing or two about what makes a venue stick. A short-lived career in shoemaking convinced him hospitality was where his heart lay. He hasn’t looked back since.
When Fordham’s first opened, it was an extremely humble offering. Starting with a coffee machine and a plate of chocolate brownies, the joint has grown into a Camberwell staple, with Shannon transforming a space with no kitchen, no menu and no chef into a brunch destination for many.
The menu is seasonal, outside the box and far from pretentious. Running on the ethos of community spirit, the cafe places an emphasis on supporting other local businesses such as Green Eggs, Clover Valley and Sungold Milk. Pop by for potato hash waffle topped with panko crumbed egg, bacon and sriracha hollandaise, or house-made goji and almond granola with yoghurt cheesecake, peach jelly and fresh blueberries.
If it’s lunch that you’re after, try the crispy calamari salad mixed with carrot, bean shoots, coriander, nahm jim, pickled kohlrabi and a lime chilli dressing, or the poached chicken breast sandwich on rye bread with a herb and citrus mayo, baby spinach and a mini salad. If the kids are in toe, there’s a great menu for them too, including the Sea Sailor with mini fish fingers and chips.
As you enter the doors of the converted milk bar, your eyes will be drawn to the old school sign that glows above the coffee machine. Behind this shiny specimen, beside a jumble of pastries, sandwiches and coffee cups, you will likely find Head Barista Erin Johnson.
Erin’s go-to coffee bean at Fordham’s is Corcavado by Zest. A combination of beans from Brazil, Peru and Papua New Guinea, the award-winning blend shines in milk-based espresso, with flavours of chocolate, caramel, toffee, malt and butterscotch. For black coffee, Zest provides a weekly rotating single origin, meaning you could be sipping on beans from Ethiopia one week and Peru the next.
Still a local milk bar at heart, Milkboy on Fordham’s is a hotspot for both locals needing a caffeine fix and visitors who have come to see what the fuss is all about.