Melbourne is a funny little place: Years ago residents were constantly lamenting about the difficulty of finding delicious full meals—breakfast, lunch, dinner—alongside delicious coffee. These days, it seems like the city's famous for doing both things, but when you want a simple, quality baked good with a great coffee, you often need to visit two separate venues (unless you really vibe on a classic Australian iced long black).
After years of thinking about potentially starting a bakery with a solid coffee offering to fill that gap, Aaron Maxwell (pictured above) had a serendipitous introduction to Boris Portnoy in 2015. At the time Portnoy was working as a pastry chef at Auction Rooms, after moving to Melbourne from California, where he worked at the three Michelin–starred Meadowood in Napa Valley. Maxwell and his Everyday compatriot Mark Free started talking with Portnoy about collaborating shortly thereafter. The result is All Are Welcome—bringing baked goods and tasty coffee to the people of Northcote since April 2017.
All Are Welcome occupies a beautiful space at the peak of Northcote—literally at the top of the hill, on the main stretch of High Street—but looks surprisingly unassuming from the outside, relatively hidden when seen from the street. But it’s impossible to ignore the huge poster pasted up on the outside wall that says “VIENNOISERIE,” just in case you needed any more encouragement to go inside.
The space was designed by architect Murray Barker, with the build being undertaken by Exzibit Design. It’s a nice light space broken up into what is essentially an interesting figure eight by its structural needs (nicely replicated by Seb Godfrey’s—of Open Space—graphic design for the brand). The front half encompasses the wall of loaves and bannetons (bread baskets), a retail space, a cheese cabinet, coffee service, and a pretty irresistible pastry display. The second half holds the bakery, storage, bathrooms, and a very sweet corner to sit in created by a couple of former church pews.
“Much like a good neighborhood coffee shop, a bakery is a place that brings people together, quite literally ‘breaking bread,’” says Maxwell. “This has always appealed to us as it speaks to the reasons we opened Everyday in the first place. We were also heavily inspired by bakeries we had come across in Europe but there was always one problem: The coffee was always an afterthought. With All Are Welcome, we were looking to rectify that problem.”
When it comes to edible offerings, there is a range of delicious and lesser-known pastries, all informed by Portnoy’s travels through Eastern Europe, Russia, and Georgia. Where many pastry shops around Melbourne (and Australia at large) tend to focus on replicating the French classics, Portnoy brings something new to the table: His approach to pastry is to highlight lesser-known viennoiserie and expose people to new flavors and ingredients, while the bread offering is simple with an emphasis on consistency over quantity.
After several visits to All Are Welcome, this writer can thoroughly vouch for the deliciousness on offer: the Khachapuri is utterly addictive with its layers of flaky pastry embracing the cheesy feta and mozzarella filling, while the Medovnik will swiftly disappear due to its utterly transfixing layers of buttercream and honeyed cakey crepe. Pair that with an espresso from the cafe’s black powder-coated La Marzocco Linea PB or a batch brew from the ever-faithful Moccamaster, and you’re pretty much in heaven.
The rationale behind much of All Are Welcome’s retail offerings is face-smackingly simple: It’s based entirely around the idea of products that go with bread (duh). What this means is that once you’ve adequately binged on sweets and savory snacks alongside coffee, you can then stock up on a freshly baked San Francisco sourdough, as well as some house-made pickles, Brillat Savarin cheese, and chutneys and jams to go with it, along with a bag of Everyday-roasted coffee for home.
All in all, All Are Welcome has brought a bit of that Everyday magic to Northcote: It’s got that same, no-nonsense approach to tasty coffee, but this time the cafe has added in some next-level pastry—just enough to make you wish you lived just around the corner so this could be part of your daily routine (so that you might visit *Every Day*).
Eileen P. Kenny is a coffee professional, winemaker, and Sprudge Media Network contributor based in Melbourne. Read more Eileen P. Kenny on Sprudge.