Way back in the 19th century, Sir Charles Augustus FitzRoy boarded a boat from England headed for Australia to take up his assigned post as the tenth Governor of the colony of New South Wales. Word is that he was a spectacular peacekeeper, and had a hand in many positive developments during colonial times in Australia—consequently having the suburb of Fitzroy named in his honor. Sensibly, it’s only fitting that a cafe in his name, Sir Charles, has found a home in Fitzroy in Melbourne’s inner north.
Opened recently on Johnston Street in what was formerly a long-standing bagel and coffee shop (aptly titled ‘Beans & Bagels’), Sir Charles is a fresh take on the Melbourne-centric combination of well-thought-out food alongside carefully roasted coffee.
There are a lot of partners behind this project: the former owners of Beans & Bagels, Stephen and Angela McGinness, are involved in the space’s new incarnation, alongside Zoe Delany and David Makin of Axil Coffee Roasters. Front of house operations are managed by longtime employee of Axil, Andy Smith, and his wife Kat. In the kitchen is Tyler Preston, a chef who’s spent time at iconic Melbourne spots including Chin Chin, Vegie Bar, and Seven Seeds; while Georgina Lee, his wife, is the powerhouse behind Sir Charles’ interior design concept and execution.
With so many people involved, you’d assume the outcome might be chaotic, but Sir Charles has come together as a calm and refined space. The dining area is deceptively spacious, with light, bright colors on the walls accentuating the natural light that filters in through the windows, while wood and splashes of copper bring a warmth to the space. Here, coffee is roasted in-house on a 12kg Probat, with espressos pulled through their La Marzocco FB80, and filters brewed using the trusty Clever coffee dripper.
The food offering is extensive and ambitious, with dishes like BBQ pork on crispy roti, or grilled lamb ribs with kipfler potatoes and Vietnamese mint salsa drawing on Asian and modern Australian influences. Don’t worry about having to go too far out of your comfort zone though, you can still get staples like poached eggs on toast—you just have the option of adding the house kimchi or tempura poppers on the side if you’re after a little kick.
With an impressive team spending so much time and energy on the food, coffee, and service—in a spectacular location no less—Sir Charles looks to be a pretty special addition to the suburb of Fitzroy. Like its namesake, Australians can be glad it has arrived.
Eileen P. Kenny is a Sprudge.com staff writer based in Melbourne, and the publisher of Birds of Unusual Vitality, the coffee interview magazine. Read more Eileen P. Kenny on Sprudge.