Operator 25 isn’t your ordinary Melbourne brunch venue – it’s a little posh and a lot playful, and just a hop away from the Flagstaff Gardens.
Housed in a heritage-listed telephone exchange building, this brunch restaurant is the creation of Valerie Fong and Randy Dhamanhuri. The pair saw a gap in the market after watching city dwellers head to the suburbs each weekend in search of brunch and specialty brews. Wanting to bring breakfast back to the city, they opened their first venue together. Operator 25 is now a well-loved institution, frequented by corporate workers and university students alike.
Head Chef Felipe Guedes executes a ‘breakfast restaurant’ menu, combining the dishes of a cafe with the cooking techniques of a restaurant. A mix of seasonal local produce and Asian flare creates original options you won’t see anywhere else. Depending on the time of year, you could start your morning with Operator 25’s famous matcha-almond pancakes topped with rose water watermelon, chocolate sauce and green tea ice cream; or a Japanese open omelette, the perfect balance of octopus, wakame, spring onion, edamame and Japanese mayo.
For lunch, the choices are many: do you order the Balinese pork burger with a fried egg, chilli mayo and slaw; the soy grilled eggplant; or the five-spiced duck leg? There’s always a different protein on offer and a delicious vegetarian option, meaning your lunch selection will never be bland again. Free-range eggs are from Green Eggs, an ethical supplier near the Grampians, with smallgoods and meat coming from Gamekeepers in Moorabbin.
As coffee is taken pretty seriously at Operator 25, you’ll want to partake. The cafe has two house blends, the first being Code Black’s 3056 Blend. This is a seasonal blend with beans from Ethiopia, Guatemala and Brazil and is a medium roast with a slick malty profile. When it comes to black coffee, Operator 25 turns to Code Black’s Seasonal Blend. This consists of naturally processed Ethiopia Kochere and washed-processed Ethiopia Nitsu Ruz. When extracted, it boasts a berry focused acidity and rounded sweetness, with great aromatic floral in the cup.
Head Barista James Ooi and his team also offer a selection of alternative brewing options. If it’s a hot day, opt for the cold brew, or if you’re just in the mood for something a little different, try the pour over or batch brew.
All of this can be enjoyed in a large industrial space, with geometrically quirky tables and dashes of greenery to keep it feeling fresh. Wanting to retain the building’s heritage elements, Valerie and Randy restored the window frames and brickwork and introduced one-liners all over the walls that make reference to the building’s history. These little elements tie into the venue’s casual and cheeky atmosphere.
Next time it’s your turn to choose a brunch spot, forget about the suburbs. Operator 25 is on call, ready and waiting to look after all your Sunday morning needs.