By Jo Rittey


When you take your car to the mechanic’s for a service you don’t imagine that one day you will be eating breakfast there. But that’s exactly what has happened now that Au79 has set up a gloriously huge and lush café where my mechanic used to be.


While there is some referencing to the former purpose of the building in the brass inlaid tracks which replace skidmarks on the concrete floor, the name itself is not at all automotive. AU79, for those who are unsure, are the chemical symbol and atomic number for gold.


Once you know that owners Julia Hou and Maggie Li also own a bunch of other A-lister cafes, including Addict Food & Coffee, Sir Charles, Liar Liar and Prospect Espresso, you realise why the concept of ‘good as gold’ is remarkably apt.


With a team headed by Executive chef Stephen Hogan and Head Chefs Ryan Lynch and Edward Noble, you are in for a treat as far as the menu is concerned. The in-synch team have worked before in other venues and are a well-oiled machine when it comes to putting out beautifully plated quirky twists on classic dishes. With seating for 200 and busy weekends hitting over 700 covers this is quite a feat. The okonomiyaki with katsu eggplant is fast becoming a favourite as are the 24h hour lamb croquettes and the Beligian waffle balls. You can equally opt for a bircher, granola, a cronut or smashed avocado their way with salted ricotta, chilli dukkah, rice crisps on rye sourdough.


There’s an inhouse roastery inhouse headed by Minekazu Hirayama. So your 24K house blend flat white is as fresh as they come. Similarly the toast and patisseries are made on the premises too, expertly kneaded, piped and glazed by ex-Rustica baker, Isaac Kane.


The space itself is high-ceilinged industrial chic and filled with plants so you feel a little as though you’re eating in a greenhouse. In a good way.


So now I have a new place to go for coffee but I’m on the lookout for another mechanic.




27-29 Nicholson Street, Abbotsford


Mon – Fri 7am – 4pm, Sat – Sun 8am – 4pm


Jo is a French teacher, a freelance writer and needs good coffee to start her day. Armed with an exotic New Zealand accent and a winning (hopefully) smile, she likes nothing better than roaming the streets of the northside in search of new and old food-related wonders.


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