33 Little Ryrie Street (within the car park on the corner of Lawrence Place)
Ph: 0451 419 855
Waiting in line for a table is not at all unusual in Melbourne – some would even say it’s “the new black” – but down in Sleepy Hollow it’s not something cafe-goers have been used to in the past. Cue the arrival of laneway and carpark venues like Fuel and BoxOffice and suddenly it feels like there’s a new vibe in Geelong’s cafe and restaurant scene. A spot for joe – “spotties” or “joe’s” as my coffee companion Ella and I affectionately call it – opened late last year, turning an old school supplies shop into a cosy, cool little venue that wouldn’t look out of place in the trendiest of inner city laneways.
Today was my second visit to the cafe – on my first trip I got the map totally wrong and couldn’t figure out where it was. Today our other dining companion, Andy, called us for directions – “Ohhhh I know where you mean now. Don’t even ask me where I am!!” It’s fitting for a venue whose owners – adorable husband and wife team Jared and Talya – are very deliberately trying to bring “that Melbourne / New York feel to Geelong for everyone to enjoy”. On their Facebook page, they explain why they keep their promotions to a minimum, stating that “a little mystery is part of the adventure and we hope you understand and appreciate this in your search to join us!” They’ve got a strong vision and it’s working; at lunch today the three of us got talking about how slowly, slowly, places just like this are changing the whole feel of Geelong’s dining culture.
A spot for joe is all about the cute touches, from the name itself, to the smarties that come served on a teaspoon with every hot drink, to the service – Talya came over and chatted to us while we waited to pounce on a table, recognising us both from our activity on the cafe’s Facebook page. In the last few years there’s been a few venues really pushing to change the expectations locals have of coffee in Geelong and this cafe now joins them. Coffee is a very important part of this business, and the excellent cups come courtesy of the famous Slayer machine – a beast which sets cafe owners back tens of thousands of dollars but, in the eyes of many hardcore coffee enthusiasts, is worth travelling for to receive the finished product. They do a great chai latte too.
Ready made lunches in a range of interesting varieties – like a baguette stuffed full of porchetta, house pickled slaw and green apple, or the hangover-curing chorizo breakfast panini – keep dining options fast and easy but still exciting, and there’s substantial meals on the all day breakfast menu, like house made bircher with fresh labna, blueberries & passionfruit coulis.
‘avochoke smash’ with avocado, artichoke, barrel aged Mt Vikos feta and vine ripe tomatoes on seeded sourdough ($11)
Part of the all day breakfast menu, this scrumptious veggo brekky comes as is or with ham or smoked chicken for an extra $2. A beautiful, creamy mix of complementing flavours, the mixture atop the single piece of seedy toast is surprisingly filling and it’s a breakfast that leaves you satisfied rather than in a food coma. It’s also very reasonably priced, as is everything here.
Geelong ham, French cheese, vine ripened tomatoes, dijonnaise and rocket ($10)
After having tried it on previous visits, Ella returned to this baguette, a simple one but a favourite.
Photo courtesy of A spot for joe
The owners have been smart with the limited space they have, choosing creative but fuss free menu items that can be pre prepared and served quickly yet still taste fresh and delicious. Seating is a mix of counter, communal and individual tables, adding to that Melbourne-esq vibe. A spot for joe has got it just right in every way, from interesting menu items, fantastic coffee (and plenty of sweet treats to go with that, like lamingtons, baci’s and Argentinian alfajores), very friendly service and an amazing fit out and location – it’s places like this that breathe new life into Geelong’s dining scene and excite coffee and food lovers who, for so long, have pined for a taste of that city-style chic in our own little town.