Fraser Davies launched Field Black 18 months ago, a humming cafe on the northern end of High Street, Northcote that prides itself on old school hospitality and a diverse menu.
It’s a daytime venue, open 7am to 4pm, Tuesday ‘til Sunday. The menu is updated every three months, with head chef Ritchie Boucher overseeing the choices.
“I’m extremely confident of the food,” says Davies. “My chef is the ex-head chef of a winery in the Yarra Valley called Oakridge, and he’s really, really good. He’s a genius with matching flavours.”
The menu covers breakfast, brunch and lunch with an impressive variety of vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options alongside some more decadent meaty and cheesy stuff. There’s a specialty kids menu and all meals can be augmented with a range of sides and add-ons like healthy greens, vegan cashew feta and Casa Iberica chorizo.
“There’s heaps of stuff that can be modified to be vegan or gluten free or dairy free,” says Davies.
You can find brekky and brunch staples like sourdough toast, eggs on toast, smashed avo, as well as vegan hummingbird cake oats and warm breakfast granola crumble.
From there, the range is vast and consistently appetising: Korean spiced chicken waffle with kimchi slaw; pulled pork and halloumi toastie; chicken laksa with tofu; Portobello mushroom burger with a fried egg on a brioche bun; duck cassoulet with pork sausage braise; and the vegan puku-kai bowl, which includes a slathering of super foods.
“The food is so good that I say to nearly every table, ‘if you don’t think it’s amazing, it’s free.’ And I’ve never had anyone disagree, which astounds me – 18 months and I haven’t had one complaint about the food,” Davies says.
This helps to limit food waste, too. “We’re extremely low on food waste because of how good my chef is. Nearly every plate comes back with zero on it. We also work with Reground and all of our coffee goes to community gardens.”
The coffee is by Padre and tea by Larsen and Thompson. “[Padre] is one of the reasons we do so well, as well. They’re so respected. It’s out of Brunswick. They’re the best coffee company going around.”
Field Black is fully licensed and serves beer, cider, wine, mimosas and Bloody Marys. There are also a range of power packed vegan smoothies including the dark horse, made up of cacao, peanut butter, banana, dates and almond milk.
There’s street seating, a big rectangular main dining area, as well as seating along the hallway leading to a dog friendly courtyard out the back. It’s as comfortable for big groups as it is for intimate dates and people who want to sit inside sipping coffee and using the Wi-Fi.
“It’s super family friendly. It suits everyone. I’m not prejudiced. I don’t care how old they are, where they’re from, what their orientation is. I’m all inclusive. If you walk in, you’ll get a menu and some water and a coffee order taken and a hello how are you? It’s just old school hospitality.
“On a weekend, probably 40 per cent of our customers come every weekend. Some come Saturdays and Sundays. I’ve got a guy that comes five times a week.”
Find Field Black at 468 High Street, Northcote. For the full menu, opening hours and more, head to fieldblack.com.au.