Located on Wills Street (just off La Trobe Street), Operator25 is a recent addition to the plethora of cafes that have sprung up around Melbourne.
Operator25 drew inspiration for its name from the fact that the heritage listed building it occupies was Melbourne's first telephone exchange building. The chic interior layout of the café also draws inspiration from the building's history, with the dining area surrounding a central coffee making island – an architectural reference to the central switchboard operators of years gone by.
Operator25 sources its coffee beans from Code Black and the head barrista is ex Manchester Press. As expected from this combination, we found the coffee to be of an excellent standard – obviously a prerequisite to succeed in the Melbourne market.
The menu, crafted by chefs Valerie Fong and Felipe Pereira Guedes, is modern Australian and makes great use of seasonal produce. All of the dishes we sampled were vibrant, fresh and beautifully presented. This is no surprise given Valerie Fong was the head chef at Bacash prior to joining the Operator25 team. Having spoken with Valerie, her passion for cooking is palpable and this is reflected in the dishes that flow from the kitchen.
Heirloom Tomatoes, Pan Fried Potato Gnocchi, Black Olive Tapenade, Goats Curd and Parmesan Crisps
The combination of pan fried gnocchi, heirloom tomatoes and goats curd simply sung of spring. The olive tapenade added complexity and the parmesan crisps added a delightful textural edge.
Barramundi, Sautéed Kipfler Potatoes, Warm Salsa, Pine Nuts and Currants
This dish was all about simple flavours and excellent execution. The skin of the barramundi was crisp and the flesh was delicate and moist. The warm salsa, pine nuts and currants complemented, rather than overpowered, the fish.
Tonka Bean and Coconut Sago, Citrus Curd, Mango and Pistachio Salted Caramel Crumbs
Visually attractive, this layered, fusion creation was a delight. Marrying the classic, creamy Asian dessert of coconut sago with tart citrus curd and pistachio salted caramel crumbs, this dessert was refreshingly light, well balanced and cleverly constructed.
With it's sleek interior, top notch coffee and excellent food (and importantly for Melbourne, obscure location…) Operator25 has all of the ingredients necessary to make its mark on the Melbourne café scene and is a great new option for any day of the week.