Poke the Bear
2A Mitchell St, Northcote VIC
03 9481 5554
Poke the Bear is the first solo venture of Ryan Cassidy, who previously co-owned Truman in Albert Park, Galleon in St Kilda, and Veruca Salt in Elwood. Cassidy is an avid tennis fan and thought up the name after hearing a commentator remark, “don’t poke the bear” during a match. The phrase stuck, and so have the 1990s pop magazine pages – to the walls of the bathroom.
The cafe has a whimsical theme, which is far removed from the current Melbourne trend that focuses on minimalism. Poke the Bear takes a quirkier approach, inspired by Cassidy’s trips to Bali. Colourful reclaimed louvre doors line the main counter, behind which repurposed wooden crates serve as shelving for imported beer bottles and pineapples. A fern wall feature brings a slice of nature inside, and wicker light shades punctuate the Balinese vibe.
The playfulness trickles into the menu, with traffic light ‘se-juiced’ options. Red is beetroot, carrot, and apple. Yellow has pineapple, orange and passionfruit. Green is packed with kale, spinach, celery, and mint. The breakfast menu has a bear theme, including Grizzly Acai Bowls Goldilocks Porridge, and Grin & Bear It chilli scrambled eggs. Mama Bear, Papa Bear, and Yogi Bear all represent some Melbourne breakfast favourites, but you’ll have to come see for yourself what each entails.
Coffee is sourced from Wide Open Road and comes with an aphorism, much like you’d find in a fortune cookie: “Money won’t buy you happiness, but it will keep you in touch with your children”. The Bathysphere Blend is used for milk based coffee, while rotating single origin beans are available for black coffee. A special washed processed Colombian is currently available, which is from the Women’s Coffee Growers Project. This particular lot from the Cauca region is farmed by women only, and the project aids in the provision of education, housing, and health to all 2300 members and their families. As an espresso it’s balanced, with smooth chocolate and hazelnut tones.
If you wake up like a grizzly bear that needs coffee to function, then you’ll find just what you need at 2A Mitchell Street, in Northcote.